Every morning without fail, a group of friends defying age, profession and gender, enjoy breakfast at a deli in Matina for a couple of years now. Here, there is no friend nor foe, or ideas too bizarre or complex to explore. The company is always in a flux as artists, journalists, businessmen and retirees stay awhile, shooting the breeze on anything under the sun – arts and culture, the changing weather, the whale that choked on 80 pounds of garbage, traffic, plastic use, and everything going on in the city while having a nice cup of coffee and a choice of chorizo or corned beef with rice. At the center of this expanding table is Dinky Munda, artist, businessman and historian, by virtue of his rich memories of the city and its people.The topic one morning was on the simple and uncomplicated life in the 60s or life before plastics invaded households and our collective consciousness. The conversation rapidly turned into longings of the past when technology was not at the center of our existence – of playing in the rain, running wild in the neighborhood at the first whiff of summer, exploring the marshes or just staying out of the house and away from household chores.
And seeing water tanks in houses.
With the water distribution not as sophisticated as it is now, most houses have water tanks that keep rainwater for everyday use. There were also water pumps for washing clothes, cleaning the house and other needs. Drinking water was special. Rapid urbanization coupled with the degradation of our environment has pushed this precious resource to the brink of depletion. Potable water is used to flush toilets, wash cars, and in industrial production.
How do we make use of our rainwater? An environment group said an average of 2,688 millimeters of rain is received by the city every year, and 100,000 liters of free rainwater are available annually for harvesting by a typical 50-square meter roof catchment. With the torrential rains that come on certain months, rainwater floods many parts of the city.
The city’s consumption of water from our watershed is already 320 million liters per day in 2019, said the water district, and the increase is attributed to hotel construction, industries, and commercial establishments, and the influx of laundry shops and car washes.
The city has an existing law on rainwater harvesting that desperately needs to be implemented.
Every morning at breakfast, Dinky and his rapidly expanding network of friends talk about issues like this. Pretty soon, this conversation will ripple to the far corners of the city and reach people who wield the power to make things happen.