Water Conservation Through Rainwater Collection

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) together with SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SM Prime), a prominent real estate developer in Southeast Asia, have jointly urged local public officials to refrain from groundwater extraction. Instead, they advocate for investing in rainwater collection methods for recycling and storage. They also recommend the exploration of innovative technologies like modular desalination and modular sewage treatment plants to effectively manage the impacts of climate change on the Philippines' water resources.

During the "Towards a Greener Footprint" multi-stakeholder forum held recently in Iloilo City, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga provided actionable guidelines for local governments to diminish their carbon footprint. The emphasis was on water conservation as a strategy to combat an impending water crisis and to enhance accessibility to safe water and sanitation.

“We need to invest in the appropriate engineering and infrastructure to deliver water from the source,” Secretary Loyzaga said. “We must avoid, if not reduce drastically, the extraction of groundwater which in low-lying coastal areas causes subsidence and increases flooding.

he photo, captured by Arnold Almacen of the Iloilo City Office of the Mayor, features (from left to right) Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Trenas, journalist Ces Drilon, Secretary Loyzaga, urban planning and landscape architect Paulo Alcazaren, United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) co-chair Michaela Rossette Santo-Tayag, and SM Supermalls Vice President for Corporate Compliance Liza Silerio.

Rainwater catchments will not only provide additional supply for household use but will also help ensure the availability of surface water through the maintenance of watershed cover when impounded,” Secretary Loyzaga said.

According to the most recent report from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the amount of water self-abstracted for personal use increased from 215.2 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2020 to 217.8 bcm in 2021 across the country. Over the period from 2010 to 2021, the largest share of self-abstracted water was used by the power sector (58.7%). Following this were agriculture (33.5%); mining and quarrying, manufacturing, and construction (5.3%); and the services sector and households (2.6%).

Earlier this month, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) noted that the country still possesses an adequate water supply. However, effective management is essential to prevent a potential water crisis by the year's end.

This call received a resounding response from the private sector, especially from SM Prime. During the same forum, Engr. Liza B. Silerio, Vice President for Corporate Compliance at SM Supermalls, discussed how SM Prime has intensified its sustainability initiatives, building on practices initiated since SM Supermalls began water recycling in the 1990s.

From implementing rainwater catchment systems to mitigating flooding in communities near its malls, SM Prime has also spearheaded a pioneering mall-based rainwater filtration system. This innovation transforms collected rainwater into potable water suitable for various purposes like washing, cleaning, and even consumption. The system was introduced at SM City Baguio and will supply mall tenants with sufficient potable water, consequently reducing the need for excessive sourcing from the local water table.

As an integrated property developer, we have seen the first-hand effects of natural hazards that are caused by the change in weather patterns in the Philippines,” Engr. Silerio explained. “El Nino and La Nina are two phenomena resulting from climate change. Our country ranks number one in the World Risk Index 2022 report as the most vulnerable among 193 nations.

Confronted by this obstacle, Engr. Silerio affirmed that SM Prime will persist in discovering inventive approaches to tackle the climate-related hurdles.. “We continue to evolve and adapt technology to improve our resource consumption as part of our climate action,” she concluded. (ENDS)