Creation of Department of Water urged amid water woes in Metro Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   June 26, 2019   •   850

MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers on Tuesday pushed anew for the creation of a department that will solely address the country’s water woes amid a supply crisis being experienced in Metro Manila and nearby towns.

During an oversight hearing in the House of Representatives, several lawmakers raised their concerns over the persistent water troubles, which began in March this year and continued through the peak of the dry season.

Solons believe it is high time for the country to have a Department of Water to correctly manage its abundant supply of fresh water and resolve the water crisis.

“Importante talaga na magkaroon tayo ng isang sistema ng pamamalakad ng tubig dito… Ito ay long overdue na na kailangan ng Pilipinas dahil nakikita natin ang mismanagement ng tubig,” said Bulacan Representative Jonathan Sy-Alvarado.

He cited the amount of water being released from dams when rains brought by a tropical cyclone fill up dams to spilling level when it could have been stored in a different reservoir, which may be accessed by water concessionaires during the dry season.

The conduct of the hearing comes amid rapidly declining water level in Angat dam that left the metropolis parched despite the onset of the rainy season.

Attending the inquiry were representatives from concessionaires, Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc., Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

During the hearing, the LWUA also suggested asking for the help of local water districts in distributing supply to areas affected by the water shortage.

“We can ask them (water districts) to help share their water resources although the problem maybe is how to transport the water,” said Jeci Lapus, LWUA acting administrator.

Concessionaires, Manila Water and Maynilad, both agreed with Lapus’ proposal.

“We support the plan to give us more water,” said Ferdinand de la Cruz, president of Manila Water.

“Sa Maynilad po we also welcome the offer of administrator Jeci Lapus,” said Ramoncito Fernandez, who heads Maynilad.

The water level at Angat Dam has continued to dip, hitting 158.77 meters as of 6 a.m. Tuesday (June 25).

The dropping water elevation at Angat Dam has prompted water concessionaires to implement rotational service interruptions.

Aside from the creation of the Department of Water, suggestions on storing rainwater and recycling of wastewater used in water-intensive facilities were also discussed during the House inquiry.

Malacañang, for its part, said it is open to any proposal seeking to address the country’s water troubles.

“Pinag-aaralan lahat ng pwedeng gawin to solve water problem,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters at a Palace press briefing.

Meanwhile, the Makabayan bloc reiterated its earlier demand to hold the water concessionaires accountable for the water shortage being felt in Metro Manila.

It also renewed its call for the government to take over these water utilities to ensure water security, transparency, and accountability. (with details from Grace Casin)

Metro water allocation to increase on Sept. 1 as Angat dam level improves – NWRB

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The allocation for Metro Manila water concessionaires will slightly increase next month as rains brought about by recent weather disturbances continue to boost the water level at Angat dam, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) said Monday.

NWRB director Servillo David Jr. said the water of Angat dam is already above the minimum operating level of 180 meters and is expected to rise further based on the rainfall projections of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA).

“With the current level of Angat which is already above 180 meters and expected to rise further with incoming weather disturbances and Pagasa projections of near-normal rainfall for September, there will be an adjustment in allocation for water supply and irrigation starting September 1,” he said in a message sent to reporters.

David said the current water supply allocation of 36 cubic meters per second (cms) will be increased to 40 cms for the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). Allocation for irrigation will also go up next month.

“For water supply from 36 cms to 40 cms. There will be allocation for irrigation also up to 30 cms,” he said.

The NWRB reduced the water allocation for Metro Manila to 36 cms from 40 cms when Angat dam breached the critical level of 160 meters in June.

The allocation was a huge slash from the average allocation of 48 cms on normal days.

The reduced water allocation resulted in rotational service interruption in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in the previous month.

PAGASA earlier said it may take until September before Angat dam level returns to normal.

PAGASA Hydrologist Shiela Schneider said the projection was based on dam monitoring in previous years.

“Kasi nandito na tayo sa tag-ulan, may mga bagyo at may mag inexpect pa tayo na bagyong dadating so inaasahan, based from the historical naman natin na mga data, nakikita natin during these months talaga tumataas ang elevation ng Angat dam” she said.

Aside from Angat dam, water level at other dams in the country, including La Mesa, Ambuklao and Ipo, were also reported to have improved. (RRD with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

PAGASA declares end of El Niño

Marje Pelayo   •   August 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – State weather service PAGASA has declared the end of weak El Niño which has started in the last quarter of 2018.

This means that the temperature in the Pacific Ocean has returned to normal and will remain so until the end of 2019.

During the past three to five months, areas of Oriental Mindoro and Sultan Kudarat experienced less rainfall.

But this August, PAGASA expects normal rainfall level in areas of Calabarzon, MIMAROPA, Bicol Region, Metro Manila, most parts of Eastern Visayas, and the provinces of Nueva Viscaya, Quirino, Bataan, Aurora, Agusan Del Norte, and Surigao Del Norte.

The El Niño has incurred P7.963-B worth of damage in agriculture across the country, according to data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in JUNE 27, 2019.

This is apart from other problems such as the water crisis that hit Metro Manila when the level of water reserve in Angat Dam dipped below the minimum operating level of 180 meters.

For now, the dam’s supply is gradually recovering as it hit 177.12 meters at 6:00 a.m. today (August 16).

With this development, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) may soon increase water allocation in Metro Manila to 40 cubic meters per second from the current 36 cubic meters per second, according to the agency’s Executive Director Sevillo David. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Angat Dam water level improves at 176.72 meters

Marje Pelayo   •   August 15, 2019

Angat Dam

MANILA, Philippines – The water level in Angat Dam has improved, according to the latest record from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

As of 6:00 AM Thursday (August 15), The water level in Angat Dam was at 176.72 meters, a 0.43-meter increase from 176.29 meters recorded on Wednesday (August 14).

Days of continuous rainshowers brought about by monsoon rains somehow replenished Angat Dam’s water reserve.

However, its water level remains below the dam’s minimum normal operating level of 180 meters.

Angat Dam is the main source of water supply for Metro Manila.

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