environment

Rains fail to raise Angat Dam's water level

June 3, 2019

CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan -- Despite the mild to strong rains being experienced in the late afternoon and early evening in Bulacan in the past days, the water elevation at Angat Dam continues to drop.      Data from the Provincial Public Affairs Office (PPAO) of Bulacan showed that the water elevation at Angat dam went down to 169.37 meters on Friday, which is more than 10 meters short of the required minimum operating level of 180 meters.      PPAO head Maricel Cruz said that since last week, the dam’s water level is slightly falling amid rains the past days.      From the dam’s water level at 170.70 meters on Saturday, it slightly went down to 170.49 meters on Sunday. It dropped further to 170.19 meters Monday, 169.88 Tuesday and 169.79 meters Wednesday, and 169.63 meters Thursday.      The water level at Angat Dam breached its critical water level of 180 meters when it reached 179.97 meters last April 28. Since then, the dam’s water level continues to plunge.      Meanwhile, in an attempt to increase the water level in the dam, the National Water Resources Board temporarily cut irrigation supply to palay farmlands in Bulacan and Pampanga since May 16.      The Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has also started its cloud seeding operations over the dams in this province last May 13 to create artificial rain that could increase the water level in the facilities.      Angat Dam supplies 97 percent of potable water to Metro Manila residents.      The lowest level recorded was in July 2010 when Angat’s water dipped to 157.55 meters. (PNA)

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Asia's glaciers provide buffer against drought

June 3, 2019

A new study to assess the contribution that Asia's high mountain glaciers make to relieving water stress in the region is published 29 May 2019 in the journal Nature. The study has important economic and social implications for a region that is vulnerable to drought. Climate change is causing most of the region's glaciers to shrink.      British Antarctic Survey (BAS) glaciologist Dr Hamish Pritchard found that during droughts, glaciers become the largest supplier of water to some of Asia's major river basins. This melt-water is important for the people living downstream when the rains fail and water shortages are at their worst.      Each summer, glaciers release 36 cubic kilometres of water -- equivalent to 14 million Olympic swimming pools -- to these rivers. This is enough water to fulfil the basic needs of 221 million people, or most of the annual municipal and industrial needs of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.      This supply is unsustainable, though, because climate change is causing the region's glaciers to lose 1.6 times more water than they gain each year from new snowfall.      The high-mountain region of Asia, known as the Third Pole, encompasses the Himalayas, Karakoram, Pamir, Hindu Kush, Tien Shan, Kunlun Shan and Alai mountains and has 95,000 glaciers in total. About 800 million people are partly dependent on their meltwater.      Dr Pritchard analysed estimates of the glacier contribution with the amount of precipitation in average years and in drought years. He used climate datasets and hydrological modelling to calculate the volume of glacier water entering and leaving the region's major river basins.      Dr Pritchard says: "This study is about answering the question -- why do glaciers matter? Even in high-mountain Asia, they are remote and cover quite a small part of the region. It turns out that they are particularly valuable to society as a natural store of water that keeps the rivers flowing through summer, even through long droughts.      "Against a background of increasing drought-related water and food shortages and malnutrition, which have been predicted with high confidence for the coming decades, Asia's glaciers will play an increasingly important part in protecting downstream populations from drought-induced spikes in water stress -- spikes that, without mitigating changes in the way water is stored and used, are the potential trigger for a sudden jump in the price of water that could be profoundly destabilising for this region."      The research paper "Asia's shrinking glaciers protect large populations from drought stress" by Hamish D. Pritchard is this week in Nature.      This research paper was published originally in 2017 but was retracted when a reader pointed out an error. Consequently, Dr Pritchard re-worked his modelling afresh.      An editorial appears in the same issue of Nature.

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DENR, Pangilinan-led MPIC team up to rehabilitate 20 dirtiest esteros in Manila

June 3, 2019

Efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay and its tributaries received another much-needed boost after the Manuel Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) committed to clean up Manila’s filthiest esteros that flow into Pasig River and ultimately into Manila Bay.      The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently forged a five-year partnership deal with MPIC for the cleanup of 20 dirtiest esteros that drain into Pasig River, under the DENR’s Adopt-an-Estero/Water Body program.      The water bodies covered by the DENR-MPIC accord are Esteros de Vitas, San Lazaro, Kabulusan, Magdalena, Binondo, Dela Reina, Sampaloc, San Sebastian, San Miguel, Valencia, Uli-uli, Paco, Pandacan, Tanque, Balete, Provisor, Concordia, Sunog Apog, San Antonio Abad and Quiapo.      The partnership was sealed through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and MPIC president and CEO Jose Ma. Lim.      According to Cimatu, the DENR-MPIC collaboration is a continuation of the battle cry for Pasig River: “rehabilitating a river, restoring life and reviving the pride.”      “Together, we will continue to clean every estero, assess their water quality and identify sources of pollution,” Cimatu said during the MOU signing held at the DENR central office in Quezon City.      “We will take appropriate actions against establishments discharging untreated wastewater to prevent them from further poisoning these waterways,” he added.      For his part, Lim assured that the MPIC—through its subsidiary Maynilad Water Services Inc.—“remains fully committed to protecting the environment.”      “Upon acknowledging the objective of the DENR to promote stewardship among the private sector, MPIC is set to assist government agencies in improving the water quality parameters of the country’s water bodies,” Lim added.      Under the MOU, the MPIC agreed not only to fund the rehabilitation and water quality assessment of the adopted esteros, but also spearhead the mobilization of neighboring schools and communities for the cleanup activities.      The diversified conglomerate also assured that Maynilad will fast-track the rehabilitation of its sewer lines, intensify the connection of domestic and non-domestic customers to the existing sewerage network, install collector pipes and easements, and conduct information and education campaigns related to proper wastewater treatment and disposal.      The DENR, on the other hand, will provide the MPIC with all the relevant data for the conduct of the water quality assessment study, issue the necessary permits and approvals to enable the MPIC and Maynilad to perform their responsibilities, and take appropriate action against violators within the adopted esteros.      Established in 2010, the Adopt-an-Estero/Water Body is a flagship program of the DENR in response to the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court for all concerned agencies to clean up Manila Bay, including all waterways that drain into it.      The program, which was eventually replicated in other parts of the country, is a collaborative undertaking among the estero community, the donor-partner, concerned local government units, the DENR and other government agencies.

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Japan packaging company Packwell to set up shop at Davao industrial estate

May 2, 2019

DAVAO City — Packwell Inc., a Japanese company that manufactures paper-based packaging and containers, has signed an agreement to establish operations at the Floirendo-owned Anflo Industrial Estate (AIE) in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.     Under the deal, signed in Tokyo last week, Packwell will build a production facility in a 1.6-hectare area within the agro-industrial hub, according to a statement yesterday from Damosa Land Inc. (DLI), the property arm of the Floirendo group and operator of AIE.     Packwell, the 11th locator and the first Japanese firm in the economic zone, will “take advantage of AIE’s support facilities for manufacturing, warehousing, processing and exporting. Complete with world-class water and power systems, ample space, wide roads and logistical networks,” DLI said.     Other companies that have signed up for space within AIE are from the Netherlands, China, and the United States.     Packwell will start building its facility this year, its fifth after three other sites in Japan and one in China.     “This (Japanese facility) is expected to add job opportunities as well as to peripheral business opportunities in Panabo City and neighboring cities, constituting a big win for Davao del Norte and Mindanao,” the company said.     AIE, a 63-hectare industrial hub accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, focuses on agro-industrial processing and light manufacturing.

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AirAsia Philippines eyes Beijing route

May 2, 2019

AS China would open a new international airport in Beijing this year, AirAsia Philippines is now eyeing to service the route, an executive told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Tuesday.     "We'd like to fly there, but we still need to get slots from Beijing and Manila," said Dexter Comendador, AirAsia chief executive officer.     The AirAsia Group has routes to Macau, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Shenzhen. Earlier this year, meanwhile, AirAsia Philippines has launched routes between Kalibo, Aklan and three Chinese destinations -- Macau, Kunming, and Chengdu.     He also bared his plan to increase AirAsia Philippines' flight frequencies to China this year.     Comendador earlier told the PNA that next to China Airlines, the AirAsia Group is the second largest airline in terms of passengers being carried to China.     However, AirAsia Philippines could not offer flights to Beijing, since the Beijing International Airport (PEK) is already congested, he said.     The executive noted that to go to Beijing is not a problem, but AirAsia Philippines needs the terminal slots and takeoff slots both in China and in Manila.     PEK is apparently the busiest airport in Asia, servicing about 100 million passengers a year. It is the main international airport in Beijing.     China targets to open the Beijing Daxing International Airport by September, with the goal of easing congestion in PEK.     Located on the border of Beijing and Langfang, Hebei Province, the new airport is expected to cater to 45 million passengers annually by 2021.     Beijing also has the Nanyuan Airport, but it serves as the main hub of China United Airlines. Reportedly, it will be closed once the Beijing Daxing International Airport is completed. (PNA)

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Strengthen signals in remote Misor highway

March 29, 2019

MISAMIS Oriental Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) member President Elipe is calling on both telecom giants Globe Telecom and Smart Communications to increase the number of cell towers along the two highways in the province so emergency situations could be addressed immediately when that need arises. Elipe, who is reelectionist Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano’s vice gubernatorial running mate in the May 13 elections under PaDayon Pilipino, pointed out that he has observed that most parts of the 71-kilometer long Claveria-Gingoog highway do not have cellphone signals from both cartels. “Kung dunay mga aberya or emergency, dili dayon katawag og rescue kay walay signal busa atong giaghat ang mga telcos nga mag-establish og signal sa mga highways,” he said.     Elipe manifested his proposal through an SP resolution that was passed requesting the two telecommunication firms to the effect.     Motorists’ safety is one of the concerns that Elipe had been advocating ever since he assumed the position as SP member late last year. In November, the provincial board member took the podium and criticized the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for its asphalt overlays along the Iligan-Cagayan de Oro-Butuan highway which according to him, posed a danger to motorists.

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