Water interruptions due to maintenance works, not supply shortage

By Ferdinand Patinio and Ma. Teresa Montemayor

July 28, 2023, 3:49 pm Updated on July 28, 2023, 6:36 pm

<p>Angat Dam<em> (PNA file photo by Joan Bondoc)</em></p>

Angat Dam (PNA file photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA  – Regular maintenance are causing ongoing water service interruptions, not due to shortage of supply.

In a media briefing on Friday, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) administrator Leonor Cleofas said the interruptions are isolated or localized as a result of scheduled maintenance work of Manila Water Company Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc.

"Ang direction po ng ating MWSS is to make sure that these operation and maintenance works are being done in the night and early morning para ‘yung mga consumer nating natutulog ay ‘di naaabala (MWSS's direction is to make sure that these operation and maintenance works are being done at night and early morning so that consumers are not affected)," she said.

The MWSS, as regulatory office, monitors the water interruptions and ensures that they are scheduled between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. only.

Maynilad vice president for water supply operations Ronald Padua assured their customers that "water activities in the South are purely maintenance works."

"Kahapon nga po, kami ay may ginawa doon sa aming Putatan River Plant 1. Natapos na po iyon kaninang alas dose ng madaling araw at nakapag-ramp up na rin po para ma-normalize ‘yung aming production doon sa Putatan (Yesterday, we had an activity at our Putatan River Plant 1, it was completed earlier at 12 midnight, and we were able to ramp up to normalize the production in Putatan)," he said, referring to the interruption in Muntinlupa City.

Meantime, Manila Water Corporate Communications head Jeric Sevilla advised their customers that regular or preventive maintenance works are performed to better serve them.

"Except of course if there are emergency repairs like damage to pipes, and there's waste of water. Nonetheless, water continues to be 24/7 for the two concessionaires," he said.

The MWSS, Maynilad and Manila Water hope that water levels in the dams are sustained to avoid supply problems as the El Niño season prevails.

The water level of Angat Dam increased by 5 meters as of 6 a.m. Friday -- 188.20 meters from 182.98 meters the day before.

The Angat Dam is the major source of water supply in the National Capital Region.

Its current water level is still below the 210-meter normal high water level but has breached he minimum operating level of 180 meters.

The Ipo Dam, which is 7.5 kilometers downstream of Angat, is still spilling excess water as of Friday morning.

Its water level has reached 101.3 meters as of 8 a.m. and is expected to continue rising due to the rains caused by the southwest monsoon.

The Angat and Ipo dams are within the Angat Watershed Forest Reserve in Norzagaray, Bulacan province and are part of the Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system.

Quick response fund for irrigation sought

Meanwhile, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said it would ask Congress for a quick response fund (QRF) to allow it to repair irrigation systems that are damaged by typhoons.

“The NIA doesn’t have a calamity fund and as for the quick response fund, we have to request it from the OCD (Office of Civil Defense). It takes a long process. So we would request Congress to provide us a QRF,” NIA administrator Eduardo Guillen said in a Laging Handa briefing Friday.

Guillen said they have yet to secure funds for the repair of an irrigation system that caters to 1,000 hectares of farmlands in Ilocos Norte which was damaged by Typhoon Egay.

“If we have a QRF, right after the typhoon, we can immediately have that repaired,” he added.

The NIA chief, meanwhile, expressed hope that the rains brought by Egay would help ensure adequate water supply.

“There is more (water) now and then one more thing, we don't have to open our dams to release water because there is rain. So, we are more complacent now. We are just saving now for the dry season,” he added.

Guillen reiterated that the government is ready to implement El Niño mitigation efforts.

“We are ready, our measures are ready for that. We are guided by the President’s whole-of-government approach,” he said.

Guillen also hoped that rains from the looming tropical cyclone which may enter the country in the next days will help increase the water level in the country’s dams.

“That's really a big help and we won't be afraid of having flash floods because our dams haven't been filled up yet,” he said. (PNA)