LOCAL GOVERNMENT units (LGUs) have been urged to play a greater role in heading off the periodic water shortages during the dry season, industry representatives said at a virtual forum on Wednesday.

“We invite LGUs to help solve the water crisis. LGUs can be an instrumental convenor or linkage for us to solve the water and sanitation problems across the country,” Water.org Regional Director Griselda G. Santos said.

“Water and sanitation are forever relevant issues. Public-private sector partnerships can also increase scale and reach,” Ms. Santos said. “Placing water at the core of the city’s urban planning and investment creates a strong foundation for sustainable growth. Innovation makes water more accessible and affordable,” she added.

Ms. Santos put forward her organization’s WaterCredit program, in which financial institutions support technical and financial assistance for water and sanitation improvements.

“Water scarcity affects more than 40% of the world’s population. By 2050, at least one in four people will suffer recurring water shortages,” said Anna M. Lu, Aboitiz InfraCapital vice-president for Project Development.

“This must be a concerted effort of LGUs, communities and industries. We should explore the conjunctive use of ground and surface water. To manage resources, before drawing water, we must understand availability and sustainability,” she said.

She cited the need to conduct hydrology and hydrogeology studies, which determines surface water and groundwater availability and sustainability in the target area.

Adrien Marsden, associate director for London-based design and engineering company Arup, said: “Rain and storm water is something we have to learn to live with. If we design with water, we open up opportunities. If it’s not managed, it will have flooding and negative impacts,” Mr. Marsden said.

“Urban spaces need a different approach (than) rural spaces. All of these solutions need integrated thinking. The opportunities are not about designing flood management systems, but about managing uncertainty, placemaking and driving towards sustainable and net zero targets,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rezatec Vice-President Michel Trudelle said that geospatial data analytics the key to enhancing water systems in a manner that will prevent flooding.

“Geospatial artificial intelligence (AI) can help utilities in the face of increasingly extreme weather,” Mr. Trudelle said.

“It can accurately predict the top at-risk sections of your network, implement upgrade programs more effectively, and gain savings in capital and operating expenditures,” he added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson