Angat Dam is the main water source of Metro Manila.
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Metro Manila water shortage unlikely this year
Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - May 18, 2020 - 6:59pm

MANILA, Philippines — Any risks of water shortage in Metro Manila this year is likely behind us as water regulators expect the capital’s main dam to remain within its minimum operating level this year.

“Despite an increased MWSS’s drawdown, as projected, Angat Dam will not drop below the minimum 180-meter mark this year,” said Emmanuel Salamat, administrator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

The rosy outlook takes a load off the Philippines this year as it braces for the onset of the typhoon season while still busy putting the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic under control. Just over the weekend, typhoon Ambo, the first storm this year, battered Eastern Samar and neighboring areas.

According to Salamat, the trend of water decline in Angat this year is “reasonable based on historical records,” and should not prompt a repeat of last year’s water shortage that caused rotational water interruptions in the National Capital Region (NCR) and neighboring areas until December.

Angat accounts for 98% of NCR’s water supply, and serves as main source of water for the region’s private concessionaires, Manila Water Company Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. which also service the provinces of Cavite and Rizal.

On May 12, the two firms started to receive 2 cubic meters (cms) per second more water supply from the dams after the National Water Resources Board approved MWSS’s petition. “The release of the 2 cms is a timing move meant to ensure unimpeded delivery of essential water-related services within intense hot summer season and to make sure an enhanced support to government efforts against COVID-19,” Salamat said.

From 46 cms, tap water in NCR and nearby areas now run at 48 cms until May 31, the scheduled expiration of the enhanced community quarantine. Salamat said the goal is to ensure round-the-clock water supply.

“Though MWSS has calibrated all possible efforts to provide the best level of service possible at 46 cms, widespread water service interruptions due to increased demand prevailed in the concession area,” he said.

Manila Water says no interruptions

Sought for comment, Mark Orbos, director of Manila Water’s corporate strategy and investor relations, said in a text message the company has tried to keep water flowing on faucets since the Luzon lockdown started in March 17, “except when there are emergency repairs and necessary preventive maintenance.”

Maynilad representatives did not respond to request for comment as of this posting.
While MWSS was “mindful” of decline in water levels in Angat during the dry months, Salamat noted that the drop was “slowed down” by inflows from Umiray River in Quezon province.

As of 6 a.m. Monday, MWSS data showed water level in Angat stood at 190.67 meters, up from 187.52 meters last Friday, and way above 173.48 meters recorded May 17 last year. The water level in Angat fell to its critical level of below 175 meters in 2019.

“The MWSS assures its stakeholders that it will continue to balance the public’s water needs vis-a-vis Angat’s sustainability in providing clean, and sufficient supply for Metro Manila and other service areas within MWSS jurisdiction,” Salamat said.

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