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Guimaras residents jitter on receding water

GUIMARAS, Feb. 25 – Authorities and the ordinary citizens of the island-province of Guimaras have expressed deep concern over the diminishing water concentration in the island.

It is quite easy for anyone to point an accusing finger at El Nino's unrelenting havoc of the environment; shriveled ricelands in the towns of Jordan, Buenavista, and San Lorenzo show that the grinding drought has not spared the province of its rampage.

Indeed, signs of water deprivation are sending jitters to a wary population.

But local officials, led by Governor Felipe Nava, do not want to limit the blame on the El Nino phenomenon, citing other perceived factors as culprits in the diminishing water content of the province's waterways; but what is truly worrisome for the inhabitants is the vanishing water in dug-up wells from which families obtain their drinking water.

With the exception of perhaps the charcoal producers, there is a growing consensus in the province that the indiscriminate cutting of trees is contributing largely to the water loss.

But many of the inhabitants themselves cannot escape culpability as numerous families have taken up the trade of charcoal making as a means of survival; hence, they have resorted to the felling of trees to turn them into charcoal.

But despite the dangers being posed by charcoal to the ecosystem, it is a thriving business; hundreds of charcoal bags are unloaded daily at neighboring Iloilo City jetty ports.

Tourists aloft planes swear that there are vast areas in the island already stripped of trees.

They agree completely that if left unchecked, Guimaras in the very near future could lose its green luster-and ultimately, precious water. It is an ecological fact that trees are excellent water reservoirs which can supply a lifetime of water if nurtured.

Environmentalists have been quoted as saying that Nava has been alerted on the ill-effects of charcoal, and they are elated by his positive response; but without serious efforts by committed government agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Interior and local Government to rein in charcoal making, they forsee an environmental disaster in the offing. (PNA) ELT/vlo

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