PHL’s water stress increased to 3rd-highest level in 10 yrs


WHILE it remained at the low-level classification, water stress levels in the country increased to its third-highest level in a decade, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Based on the PSA’s Water Flow Accounts data, the country’s water stress level slightly increased to 26.7 percent in 2020 from 26.3 percent in 2019. This is the third highest between 2010 and 2020.

The PSA said the highest water stress level in the country between 2010 and 2020 was observed in 2018 at 28.2 percent. This was followed by 2017 when the water stress level was at 28.06 percent and the 26.7 percent recorded last year.

“The annual level of water stress since 2010 consistently fell within the low-level classification range of 25 to 50 percent,” the PSA noted.

Based on the data, total fresh water extractions in 2020 reached 87,355.7 million cubic meters (mcm). This is 1,488.56 mcm higher than the 85,867.15 mcm posted in 2019.

The level of water stress is defined as freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources, the PSA explained.

Based on the Water Flow data, the country’s total water abstraction, or the amount of water that was removed from its source either permanently or temporarily, increased by 0.8 percent to 218.46 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2020, from 216.85 bcm in 2019.

The PSA said from 2010 to 2020, on the average, about 98.1 percent of the total abstraction was from surface water such as lakes, artificial reservoirs, rivers and streams; the remaining 1.9 percent came from groundwater reservoirs.

On the average, 98.6 percent of the abstracted water was for own use while the remaining 1.4 percent was intended for distribution to other economic units.

Meanwhile, the PSA said during the 2010 to 2020 period, households consistently had the largest share of expenses on water. In 2020, households’ expenses on water amounted to P66.72 billion.

This was followed by the services sector and then mining and quarrying, manufacturing, and construction, amounting to P48.47 billion and P23.65 billion, respectively.

The data also showed that water-use efficiency (WUE), “the value added per volume of water used,” decreased to P192.39 per cubic meter in 2020 from P217.42 per cubic meter of water used in 2019.

“The services sector consistently had the largest WUE from 2010 to 2020, followed by the industry sector and irrigated agriculture sector,” PSA said.

The data showed the services sector contributed 62.3 percent to the total gross value added but only accounted for 8.8 percent of the total water used.

On the other hand, the sectors of industry and irrigated agriculture correspondingly contributed 30.9 and 6.8 percent to the total gross value added while sharing 12.4 percent and 78.8 percent to the total water used, respectively.

Last month, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the Philippines needs to invest a total of P1.1 trillion in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water supply and sanitation by 2030.

At the launch of the Philippine Water Supply and Sanitation Master Plan (PWSSMP) on Thursday, Neda Assistant Secretary for Investment Programming Roderick M. Planta said this means an annual investment of over P100 billion is needed between 2020 and 2030.

This amount has not been invested by the country before on the water and sanitation sector and Planta said this is the reason for the need to also provide incentives for other stakeholders in the sector.

The low investment has led to many problems in the water and sanitation sector. In his speech, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said only about 44 percent of households have individual connection to a proper, fully-reticulated waterworks system.

Chua added that the remaining 56 percent, or 57 million Filipinos, have to fetch water for their families from communal pipes or springs or wells up to 250 meters away.

Further, Chua said, only 18 percent of Filipinos have access to septage management services, while 13 percent have access to a sewerage system. He added that more than four million Filipinos still practice open defecation.

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