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Malacanang is calling for more water conservation efforts nationwide.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said these efforts, particularly in urban areas, will help ensure continuing availability of water for irrigation.

"We must conserve so there's still water left for our farmers," he said.

The Palace made this appeal as the onslaught of El Nino beginning late last year raised concerns about shortage of water for agricultural and non-agricultural use.

Authorities expect the dry spell from El Nino to last until around mid-2010.

Experts say an El Nino episode occurs when there is unusual warming of sea surface temperature along the equatorial Pacific belt.

El Nino-affected areas experience dry spells from below-average rainfall there.

The National Irrigation Administration confirmed that the dry spell already caused water elevation in dams and rivers nationwide to dip about halfway from its normal level, threatening irrigation of agricultural areas.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Bernie Fondevillas reported that corn and rice damage from the dry spell already amounted to over PhP1 billion. - PNA

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