By Ike Señeres
It’s completely logical to wish for rain so that water reservoirs could fill up, but rain is only one part of the complete supply chain of water. The truth is, one part of the supply chain happens when the heat of the sun turns moisture from plants and leaves into vapours that disappear into the air. Thereafter, these vapours rise and changes into tiny water droplets that eventually turn into clouds. Ultimately, these clouds become too heavy these would fall as rain, the water droplets I mean. Although it is also true that water from the oceans and other bodies of water could also produce the moisture that would ultimately fall as rain, suffice it to say that moisture not only from plants but also from trees and grasses actually contribute to a huge volume that contributes to the density of the rains that fall.
Aside from supplying the moisture that ultimately fall as rain, the plants, trees and grasses in the mountains would also actually store the water in their roots, water that would eventually literally trickle down towards the oceans and other bodies of water in the lowlands, including the watersheds and the reservoirs of course. Although it is scientifically obvious, we should still be reminded that planting more plants, trees and grasses in both the mountains and the lowlands would be the long term solution to the lack of water in our reservoirs. Without any argument, I will accept the fact that cloud seeding is a practical short term solution, but that should be premised on the condition that seeding is useless if there are no clouds, and there would be less presence of clouds if no moisture comes up from below.
Not that I would want to unnecessarily complicate this discussion, but aside from the trivial discussion about the need for more rain, there is a higher goal in this equation, because plants, trees and grasses do actually contribute to “global cooling” and yes, there is such a word. And that is so because the plants, trees and grasses produce oxygen, the element that we need to balance our production of carbon. It is too complicated to explain it even if it is already over explained, but carbon emissions cause the “global warming” that threatens the existence of our planet. To go directly to the point, planting plants, trees and grasses would not only give us more oxygen that would cool our atmosphere, it would also give us the water that we would need now and forever, for our future generations, that is.
Technically, bamboos are actually large grasses and are therefore not trees, and so are sugarcanes. Extending that flow of reasoning, bananas are actually large plants but are not considered as trees, because they do not have the true woody tissue in their trunks, having a “false” stem instead. For purposes of this discussion however, it does not really matter if the flora concerned is a plant, a tree or a grass, because what only matters is that it would have the leaves that could release moisture into the air. As I understand it however, bamboos have been categorised as “trees” for the purpose of claiming carbon credits. What that also means is that aside from having income from the processing of bamboo into food and fuel among many other uses, it could also generate additional money from carbon credits.
Aside from the long term solutions that we have discussed, there are many other medium term solutions that could also work. Pardon me for approaching it from the left field, but I do believe that the key to having sustainable water is to have sustainable power, and please allow me to explain that. If we have cheaper power, we could use it not only for filtration, but also for desalination. Both of these two technologies are already mature but the economics are not so good now, because the cost of power is very high now. But if the cost of power is cheaper and is more sustainable, there is an unlimited supply of dirty fresh water that could be filtered, as well as an unlimited supply of sea water that could be desalinated. Believe it or not, there is an unlimited supply of flood water too, and we are not even filtering it.
Short of putting up another Department to manage the supply chain of water, we should first try an inter-agency task force that will coordinate the complete supply chain of water as I have defined it here. And for good measure, that should not only include water for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing, but also water for irrigation, manufacturing and many other industrial uses. For that kind of purpose, it would be useful to use a mobile app for better coordination, and for that purpose, WeCards (www.we.cards) is available for a free download. Using WeCards, all agencies that are involved in the supply chain of water could have a common mobile directory that they could use to contact each other, and even send documents to each other. As we have seen in the past, inter-agency task forces could work, as long as they could coordinate very well with each other.