ENOUGH WATER. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the 47th Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace on Monday (March 2, 2020). During the meeting, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu assured that there will be “enough water” this year. (Presidential photo by Robinson Niñal Jr.)

MANILA – With summer just around the corner, Malacañang on Tuesday said Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has assured that there will be “enough water” in the country this year.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Cimatu gave this guarantee to President Rodrigo Duterte during the 47th Cabinet meeting on Monday night as part of the government’s action plan in preparation for the dry season.

“The Environment Secretary assured the President that we will have enough water for the year,” he said in a press briefing.

He did not mention specifics, but relied on Cimatu’s promise that there will no longer be any water service interruptions in Metro Manila.

“They’re assuring us that there will be no water problem. They’re doing something about it,” he added.

During the meeting, Panelo said Cimatu presented his recent inspection of the capabilities and limitations of the Angat Dam, the primary source of drinking water for Metro Manila and irrigation water for farmlands in Bulacan and some parts of Pampanga.

Cimatu’s pronouncement came after water concessionaires earlier warned its customers of a “stricter implementation” of its rotational service interruption schedule that has been in place for several months now as the water level at Ipo Dam goes down.

Maynilad and Manila Water advised its customers to prepare for interruptions and limited water supply as early as this week once the summer season kicks off.

Both water concessionaires are in the process of negotiations for a new concession agreement with the government, which officials said may be finalized in the middle of the year.

Raw water allocation from Angat Dam will be maintained at 42 cubic meters per second (cms) in March amid water service interruptions, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) said.

This figure remains below the normal allocation of 46 cms from the dam.

Last year’s water crisis in Metro Manila has prompted officials to look for other sources of water supply.

In October 2019, Duterte said he is considering the use of “extraordinary powers of the presidency” to fast-track the construction of the Kaliwa Dam project to prevent another water crisis in Metro Manila.

Despite opposition by groups, which claimed that the construction of the Kaliwa Dam would displace indigenous peoples (IPs), Duterte said he felt it would benefit more people.

The Kaliwa Dam project in Infanta, Quezon is funded by Chinese loans while another project, the Wawa Dam in Rodriguez, Rizal is a joint venture of the consortium of Enrique Razon and Oscar Violago.

The two projects are expected to provide an additional 600 million liters a day (MLD) and 80 MLD, respectively, to help service Metro Manila. (PNA)