First there’s the rice and food crisis; then that of sugar and spices; and soon, potentially, shortage of power and water – again.
Welcome to the Philippines, welcome to our land of dizzying crises.
As if our existing woes and looming problems aren’t enough, we need to brace ourselves – yet again – for a water shortage in Metro Manila similar to the 2019 crisis which angered Rody
Duterte so much that he threatened to cancel the contracts of concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad.
In this day and age, a water crisis is one where water consumers experience interruptions in their usual 24/7 water service.
Such a scenario, say our regulators, can erupt again after 2027 if we do not have new sources of water.
Learning from Israel
It’s a scary scenario. But aside from new water sources, we should also look at new technology to possibly provide long-term solutions.
We can learn from Israel for example. Israel, a desert country where water resources are scarce, amazingly produces 20 percent more water than it needs.
It’s no surprise that in the 2013 horror-action movie World War Z, Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane, a former UN investigator, looked to Israel because it was able to keep its people safe, at least at the start of the zombie outbreak. It’s a reflection of Israel’s leadership in innovation.
And it’s not just in the movies. In real life, Tel Aviv, as some of us might already know, is quite a leader in creating innovative solutions to solve its problems.
It’s the reason many call it the start-up nation despite being a tiny nation of 9.6 million. It ranked sixth in the world by Start-up Genome’s Start-Up Ecosystem Rankings in 2019, according to an article published by the World Economic Forum that year.
One such innovative start-up is N-Drip, manufacturer of a pioneering gravity-powered Israeli irrigation system.
In industry parlance, drip irrigation is when water slowly drips onto the crop roots and stems. There is less water wastage unlike traditional forms of irrigation such as say, spray irrigation where a lot of water is lost to evaporation.
I learned about this at Water Talks, a forum on available best practices in water technology, held at Manila House in Taguig last week.
One of the speakers, who discussed the N-Drip technology – via Zoom – is Seth Siegel, an American businessman, writer and activist and New York Times best selling author of “Let
There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World.”
Siegel’s presentation was an interesting, science-based discussion on drip-water irrigation.
N-Drip, I learned, is a technological innovation that revolutionized farming in arid and drought-plagued regions in Israel.
How does it work?
Water slowly drips onto the crop roots and stems. The system utilizes existing infrastructure and gravitational force for energy, making irrigation efficient at no additional cost.
As a result, water flows efficiently using sustainable energy while lowering labor costs and money spent on fertilizers.
Professor Uri Shani, Israel’s former Water Commissioner and one of the world’s top water experts with 40 years of experience in water and irrigation, devel-oped the so-called Gravity Micro Irrigation System.
At present, N-Drip has been helping farmers irrigate precisely and efficiently, optimizing yields without requiring expensive pumps or filters.
The good news is that the system can be used for rice farms such as what we have in the Philippines, says Seth during the forum.
It is not free of course. The system has a cost but Seth says users have been able to get their return on investments within one year on average.
This is indeed the breakthrough that can significantly change the global water shortage.
As a start-up, N-Drip has raised $40 million in funding. It is now used in some parts of the US, as well as other parts of the world.
N-Drip CEO Eran Pollak, as quoted by The Innovator, said N-Drip’s technology is an improvement of existing drip technology such that it reduces the need for pressure because it works with gravity alone.
“We offer the holy grail of irrigation – a solution that is applicable to a wide range of crops grown around the world including corn, rice and sorghum.”
Could this work in the Philippines? Perhaps the National Irrigation Administration could look into it as well as other possible long-term solutions to our water problems.
In 2021, the United Nations already warned that 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by water scarcity by 2030. As it is now, it said, some 2.3 bil-lion people already live in water-stressed countries.The problem is real. In fact, in the same forum, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) chief regulator Patrick Lester Ty has warned that some parts may experience a crisis after 2027 if the controversial Kaliwa Dam does not come on stream by then.
“After 2027, if Kaliwa Dam is not delivered we have a problem,” Atty. Ty said, noting that Kaliwa Dam would really provide a new and substantial water supply to the areas in Maynilad’s coverage.
There’s a lot of work to do to avert a looming water crisis, not just the possible shortage in 2027 but before that and in the years to come. We need to look into new technology and be more conscious of our water consumption.
The most expensive water, as many of us may have learned the hard way, is no water.
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