12-17-hour water service interruptions loom as Angat level drops

By Aerol John Pateña

June 25, 2019, 8:00 pm

<p><strong>Angat Dam</strong> <em>(File photo courtesy of PTV)</em></p>

Angat Dam (File photo courtesy of PTV)

MANILA -- Manila Water advised customers in the National Capital Region's (NCR) East Zone to brace for longer water interruptions due to the declining water level of Angat Dam.

“We are now implementing water interruptions lasting for 12 to 17 hours from the previous 8 to 12 hours,” Manila Water spokesperson Donna Perez told the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday.

The water level in the Angat Dam is currently at 158.6 meters below the 160- meter critical level resulting in the reduction of the water supply by the National Water Resources Board from 46 cubic meters per second to 36 cubic meters per second which is equivalent to the one day consumption of 1.7 million residents in the eastern parts of Metro Manila.

Manila Water has distributed the impact of the water interruption to its entire East Zone franchise in a bid to equitably distribute available supply. Furthermore, it is also tapping water supply from alternative water sources such as the Cardona Water Treatment Plant in Rizal province and operation of 37 deep wells to mitigate the impact of the water shortage among its customers.

“The duration of the water interruptions in our franchise area vary based on the elevation of the area and its distance from our water sources such as pumping stations and the network system,” Perez explained.

This prompted the water company to call on its customers to store at least one day's worth of usage during the times when water service is available.

Meantime, the water concessionaire revealed that it has been conducting cloud seeding operations since April in areas near the La Mesa Watershed and Angat Dam, but its efforts, while successful in producing light rain showers, have stopped short of raising the water level sufficiently.

The company is pinning its hopes that the onset of the rainy season will replenish the water supply in the Angat Dam within the next few months. Perez said it will take about two Ondoy-level typhoons and a healthy steam of monsoon rains (Habagat) to bring the dam back to its normal levels.

Meanwhile, the water concessionaire is backing proposals to create a Department of Water to effectively manage the current water shortage in parts of Metro Manila.

The company said the proposed agency will help in ensuring stable water supply in the metropolis.

“Manila Water as a concessionaire has the duty to treat and distribute water. Ensuring the availability of water source and sustainability of supply lies on the government,” Perez said.

Various sectors have pushed for the establishment of a Department of Water that will integrate various government agencies related to water such as the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Flood Monitoring Center, and the National Power Corporation (Napocor) to address the water supply needs of the country.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo recently said that President Rodrigo Duterte is supporting the creation of a separate department that will handle water-related concerns.

The establishment of a Water Department is part of a roadmap being pursued by the government to mitigate the effects of the current El Nino phenomenon and the Metro Manila water shortage which includes an intensive information campaign for the conservation of water and energy; dredging of waterways, replacing tunnels and aqueducts, installing water tank systems in all hospitals under the health department and providing funding for the establishment of water treatment plants. (PNA)