MANILA: The government is poised to embark on water conservation measures amid an expected extended dry season brought about by the El Nino.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said steps will be taken in the coming days to ensure water security and guarantee that dams will have adequate water stocks to provide for irrigation for food production and household utilities.

Piñol said that government will resort to cloud-seeding operations to trigger rains that would improve water levels at dams in the various parts of the country.

The country side had been reeling from lack of rains over the past few weeks even as the PAGASA, the state weather bureau, has yet to declare a start in the dry season.

Typically, the typhoon season extends to December and January in Mindanao and other parts of the country, however, this year, there is a noticeable lack of rain in the past weeks.

PAGASA, on February 20, said that the unusually warm sea surface temperatures (in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific which started since November 2018) is expected to become a full-blown El Nino.

Pinol said that the country’s “No 1 mistake is taking for granted the blessings that God has given us,” by failing to conserve rainwater and river water.

The lack of water is felt even in parts of Metro Manila as pressure at the taps are lowered by Manila Water, the concessionaire providing water utility services in the southern and eastern part of the metropolis.

Manila Water was issued an urgent notice that some 50,000 households in Mandaluyong, Marikina, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig and Angono, Antipolo, Binangonan, Rodriguez, Taytay, Jalajala and San Mateo in Rizal would be affected by the lowered water pressure.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the palace is looking into the possibility that there had been inadequate preparation on the part of government agencies and water concessionaries for the El Nino.

Pinol said that the Agriculture department will be working with the Philippine Air Force for the conduct of cloud-seeding operations over parts of the country that are experiencing drought.

“I had issued a directive to Operations Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan of the Department of Agriculture to order the Regional Offices to implement cloud seeding operations,” he said.

The Philippines is dependent on dams for irrigation, potable water, as well as for hydroelectric power and low water levels could have serious repercussions for the country if not adequately addressed.