THE PHILIPPINE WATER RESOURCES ACCOUNT
In the aftermath of the El NiÃ±o phenomenon, the importance of accounting for the country’s water resources has never been more evident. To address the growing problem of the country’s water supply, there is a need to come up with indicators of the country’s consumption and stock of water resources. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) has come up with estimates of the country’s water resources through what is now more popularly known as Environmental Accounting, using the Philippine System of Integrated Economic and Environmental Accounts (PSEEA), which is based on the United Nations System of Integrated Economic and Environmental Accounts (UNSEEA) framework.
Water resource is one of the five natural resources that the NSCB has covered thus far. Separate accounts for groundwater (water found under the soil) and surface water (found in rivers, lakes and other water bodies above ground) were estimated, but only the physical groundwater estimates (volume) are presented here.
The NSCB estimates covered only freshwater resources of the country. Estimates for surface water stocks and flows, water quality, as well as monetary accounts (reflecting value in pesos of the resource) for both ground and surface water were likewise generated but are not included in this article. These estimates may be found in the publication "Philippine Asset Accounts: Forest, Land/Soil, Fishery, Mineral and Water Resources" of the NSCB. Refinements and updates of the estimates to include the period 1995 to 1998 are scheduled to come out by the end of 1999.
The Groundwater Resource Estimates
Initial estimates have shown that the total groundwater demand or withdrawal throughout the country grew from 4.3 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 1988 to 5.8 bcm in 1994. This represents an average annual increase of 5.3%. The said groundwater demand covered the domestic, industrial and commercial usage of water. Due to data limitations, the agricultural sector water demand was not included in the estimation.
On the other hand, recharge, or the replenishment of the country’s water resources through rain and other forms of precipitation, declined from 1.9 bcm in 1988 to 1.5 bcm in 1994 with an average annual rate of 3.7%.
Consequently, due to the increase in withdrawal and the decrease in recharge, stock of the country’s groundwater resources showed a declining trend for the period covered. The Closing Stock of groundwater resources, or the volume of groundwater available at the end of a given year, decreased at an average annual rate of 1.4%, from 265.5 bcm in 1988 to 244.6 bcm in 1994. This does not take into consideration the agricultural sector water demand which is expected to further accelerate the decline in groundwater stocks. The Opening Stock for a given year is simply the Closing Stock of the previous year.
Source of basic data: LWUA, MWSS and NSCB
The preliminary results of the estimation revealed a continuing trend towards the depletion of the nation’s stock of groundwater resources. As a result of over-extraction, salt water has encroached upon the groundwater supply in several areas around the country, rendering water unsuitable for drinking.
With the continuing increase in the country'’ population, this trend is likely to continue in years to come. Recent effects of the La Nina phenomenon may temporarily arrest this trend, but the sustainability of the country’s supply of water should not depend on sporadic occurrences like the La Nina. Proper planning is the key to addressing problems concerning the country’s water resources. Such plans however, must be based on sound environmental indicators and should be formulated within the context of the country’s sustainable development objectives.
Source of basic data: 1976 FNA, NEDA, LWUA, PAGASA, and MWSS