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The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) joined the Los Baños Science Community Foundation, Inc. (LBSCFI) in a toast for Sustainable Supply of Water in Los Baños at the LBSCFI-organized Technoforum on 03 August 2017 at the W.D. Dar Hall, PCAARD Complex, Los Baños, Laguna.

UPOU was represented by Dr. Ricardo Bagarinao, Dean of the UPOU Faculty of Education and Chair of the UPOU Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee; Dr. Consuelo Habito, Program Chair of the UPOU Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management Program; Dr. Cesar Luna, Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration; and Ms. Elvy Pamulaklakin, Chief Administrative Officer of the UPOU Campus Development and Maintenance Office. In addition, the UPOU Multimedia Center was tapped as the official video documentation team of the event and Ms. Anna Cañas-Llamas, UPOU Information Officer, served as UPOU’s representative to the Technoforum Committee.

About the Technoforum

The Technoforum is a yearly activity conducted by the LBSCFI as part of its National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) Celebration, dubbed as “SyenSaya.” This year, SyenSaya was conducted on 2-4 August 2017 together with the CALABARZON Regional Science and Technology Week, with the theme “Science and Technology in Harmony with Biodiversity.”

True to SyenSaya’s theme, the Technoforum tackled the issue of water supply sustainability in Los Baños. Entitled “Maka-kalikasang Talakayan tungo sa Sustenableng Supply ng Tubig sa Los Baños,” this year’s Technoforum reached out to resort owners, administrators of schools, restaurants and water refilling stations, barangay officials and and representatives from homeowners associations.

Three resource persons were invited to share knowledge and information related to the topic. Dr. Nathaniel C. Bantayan, Director of the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystem (MCME), shared the current state of Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve (MMFR) as an ASEAN Heritage Park. He emphasized that the supply of water in Los Baños is highly dependent on the health of MMFR. He stated that the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) was given the mandate to protect the Mt. Makiling Watershed, and explained the plans, protection and monitoring measures as well as the different researches that MCME conducts. He also reported that although Makiling Watershed is in good condition, it is important to stop illegal logging to maintain its good condition. Dr. Bantayan also shared the continuing challenges MCME faces in managing the MMFR.

Engr. Fatima Jean R. Alvarez, Production Supervisor of the Laguna Water District Aquatech Resources Corporation (LARC), gave a presentation about “Water Demand and Water Supply” in Los Baños. She stated that LARC supplies the water needs of all barangays of Los Baños except for Brgy. Bagong Silang. According to her, at present LARC has about 24,000 active connections. Engr. Alvarez also explained that the water demand can be categorized as domestic, public and commercial. She highlighted that population and climate change are among the major factors that affect the water consumption. She also touched on the cost and distribution of water in the municipality and gave visual examples of how much water is consumed on a daily basis for regular activities. Before she ended, she ensured that Los Baños has a safe and sufficient supply of water.

The third speaker was Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Associate Professor IV of the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM). She shared her study about water sources in the Philippines wherein she mentioned that the Philippines ranks among the lowest in fresh water availability. She also presented the different water-related government agencies and the different laws and ordinances relevant to water supply and usage in the Philippines specifically in Los Baños and Calamba. She ended her presentation with a list of what can be done to ensure water sustainability like clarifying local ordinances, responsibilities, and penalties for non-compliances, strengthening the implementation of existing laws and policies and alloting payments for environmental services. She encouraged the audience to give back to Mt. Makiling since Mt. Makiling is the primary reason Los Baños is enjoying sufficient water supply.

The presentations were followed by an enlightening question and answer session, afterwhich the toast for sustainable water supply by all participants of the forum. (Anna Cañas-Llamas)