Duterte admin mulls over creation of Department of Water
Aileen Cerrudo • April 2, 2019 • 1404
The Duterte Administration is studying the creation of the Department of Water to mitigate the severe effects of El Niño and water shortage.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet members discussed the possibility of forming a Department of Water during the 36th Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Monday night (April 1).
“A roadmap was presented, which included immediate, medium and long-term interventions, such as making an intensive campaign for the conservation of water and energy,” Panelo said.
Also discussed during the meeting, according to Panelo, is the formation of the Department of Disaster Resilience, dredging of waterways, replacing tunnels and aqueducts, installing water tank systems in all Department of Health hospitals and providing funding for the establishment of water treatment plants.
He said this will synchronize the actions of all government agencies and prevent the water interruption from happening again.—Aileen Cerrudo with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has warned to take up drastic actions against water concessionaires in Metro Manila if water shortage worsens, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the lack of action on the part of Maynilad and Manila Water may be a factor in the measures that the president may take on the problem.
These measures, according to Panelo, may include revocation of contracts to operate, and to make water concessionaires “accountable” if they are found at fault in the situation.
“I supposed the fact that they have not undertaken corrective measures that will prevent the evolution of the incoming crisis again would be a factor that would make the president decide on drastic action against them” he told reporters.
Water concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water have scheduled rotational water service disruptions starting last Oct. 24 to manage the supply from the main water supplier for Metro Manila, Angat Dam.
The water disruption lasts between four to ten hours for Manila Water consumers, and eight to 18 hours for Maynilad customers.
Water utility firms have explained it implemented rotational supply cuts to avoid a bigger problem with water supply next year.
“Kung magpapatuloy tayo na ibibigay natin yung parehong service level at hindi tayo magpapatupad ng water interruptions mas madaling bababa yung level ng Angat,” Manila Water spokesperson Jeric Sevilla said.
Based on the monitoring of state weather bureau, as of 6 a.m. Oct. 28, the water level at Angat dam is at 185.28 meters, slightly lower than the 185.41 meters recorded on Oct. 27.
There are only five meters left before it dips to its minimum operating level of 180 meters. The dam’s water elevation has consistently declined in the past few weeks due to lack of heavy rainfall that could raise its reserves.
Manila Water has expressed support for the planned construction of Kaliwa Dam which is seen to help allocate additional 600 million liters of water per day to Metro Manila.
“Itong Kaliwa Dam is something that we welcome, in fact, hindi lamang Kaliwa dam any other source of water na pwedeng mapagkunan ng additional sources of water supply for the next years,” Sevilla said.
However, the project construction has yet to start as the government is still in the process of reviewing its plan after receiving complaints regarding its implementation.
The Metropolitan Water Works and Sewerage System is looking at the Wawa Calawis project and the East Bay Water Supply project to improve the water supply in Metro Manila.
The Wawa Calawis project is seen to ensure water security in the metropolis as it can deliver 80 million liters per day, while the East Bay Water Supply project may be able to supply 50 million liters per day.
But these projects may become operational by 2022.
While waiting for completion, consumers in Metro Manila are urged to conserve water to manage the current supply from Angat dam and avoid a bigger problem during dry season next year. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)
Despite the rising water level in Angat Dam, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) has expressed concern about the possibility of another water crisis next year.
The NWRB said that if Angat Dam fails to reach its normal operating level, Metro Manila might experience another shortage come dry season.
Because of this, Congressman Ruffy Biazon, during the House Committee on Metro Manila Development hearing on Wednesday (August 28), recommended the use of Laguna Lake as a permanent source of domestic water.
This aims to address the shortage of water supply in Metro Manila and its neighboring cities and provinces in case the water level in Angat Dam recedes anew.
“Kasi iilan lang yung nakikinabang doon eh. Pinagkakakitaan yung Laguna Lake hindi para sa paggamit ng ordinaryong mamayan kung hindi sa paggamit ng mga interes ng kumpanya,” Biazon said.
The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) agreed that this can be done, although they admit that they do not have the funding to conduct dredging in the lake.
They also cited the expense that will be incurred in treating and eliminating the saltwater from Manila Bay that gets combined to the water in the lake.
Add to this is the fast-increasing formation of algae which affects the quality of the water.
“Ang Laguna Lake kaya niyang i-supply ang requirement for domestic water supply as source of domestic water. Ang problema lang is more on the water quality,” said Engr. Emiterio Hernandez of the LLDA.
To date, Maynilad and Manila Water get a small percentage of water supply from Laguna Lake for their customers in Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, and Bulacan.
Meanwhile, water levels in several dams are continuously increasing due to the rains being experienced in the country.
As of 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, the water level in Angat Dam has reached 181.74 meters.
Ipo Dam water level, on the other hand, has gone up to 11.82 meters; while that of La Mesa Dam went up to 77.18. (from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf
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