DENR backs more rain water catchments to address flood, irrigation woes

MANILA, (PNA) — Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje is fully supporting the construction of more water catchments in upstream areas as an immediate solution to flooding and help irrigate downstream areas during the dry season.

Paje said the establishment of additional catchments or small water impounding dams or SWIDs is part of the physical development plan which the Cabinet cluster on climate change is proposing not only to guide physical expansion but also to help improve the country’s resilience to global warming and climate-related disasters.

He said rainwater harvesting facilities like SWIDs are proven effective for managing rainwater, which can be used as a supplemental source of water for irrigation.

“Rainwater can be managed as a resource if it is captured upstream and use it during summer for agriculture,” Paje said.

Paje cited the case of the municipality of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija as an example of how rainwater can be beneficial to an agricultural community by significantly increasing its rice production.

Meanwhile, the environment chief said the government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), is planning to build a water catchment dam in the upstream area of the Marikina watershed.

He said the proposed water catchment dam doubles as a flood-mitigating measure to improve the level of preparedness of vulnerable communities surrounding the watershed area and as a source of irrigation water during summer months.

“The idea is to catch the water when it is available and to release it when it is needed like, for example, during the dry season for agriculture use,” Paje explained.

However, Paje clarified that the construction of SWIDs and other water catchment facilities was only supplementary to the overall objective of increasing the carrying capacity of the country’s watershed areas through massive and sustained reforestation under the Aquino administration’s National Greening Program.

“In the short term, SWIDs can enable us to achieve this but the ideal is still to bring back the forest cover in our watershed areas,” he pointed out.