Residents of Addition Hills in Madaluyong City, Manila, queue to recieve water distributed on water tank truck and fire trucks on March 15, 2019. Manila has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, leaving bucket-bearing families to wait hours for a fill up from tanker trucks and some hospitals to turn away less urgent cases.
Residents of Addition Hills in Madaluyong City, Manila, queue to recieve water distributed on water tank truck and fire trucks on March 15, 2019. Manila has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, leaving bucket-bearing families to wait hours for a fill up from tanker trucks and some hospitals to turn away less urgent cases.
Noel Celis/AFP
'Worst' water shortage hits millions in Manila
(Agence France-Presse) - March 16, 2019 - 3:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — Manila has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, leaving bucket-bearing families to wait hours to fill up from tanker trucks and some hospitals to turn away less urgent cases.

Taps are dry from four to 20 hours per day in the homes of about half of the Philippine capital's roughly 12 million people due to rolling outages driven by a dearth of rain and inadequate infrastructure.

"I have learned to take a bath using only seven pitchers of water," Ricardo Bergado told AFP as he lined up with his buckets. "I even save the bath water to flush our toilet."

Residents of Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City, Manila, queue to receive water distributed on water tank truck and fire trucks on March 15, 2019. Manila has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, leaving bucket-bearing families to wait hours for a fill up from tanker trucks and some hospitals to turn away less urgent cases.
Noel Celis/AFP

The shortages started hitting late last week, with some areas in eastern Manila seeing the supplies of water into their homes being completely cut off.

READ: Government is partly to blame for water crisis, says MWSS

However, Manila Water Company, one of the capital's two suppliers, said it will now use rolling cut offs spread across the city to share the pain more evenly.

Residents of Addition Hills in Manila queue to receive water distributed on water tank truck and fire trucks on March 15, 2019. Manila has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, leaving bucket-bearing families to wait hours for a fill up from tanker trucks and some hospitals to turn away less urgent cases.
Noel Celis/AFP

Jerry cans and buckets were flying off store shelves and landing in lines where families were spending hours waiting for deliveries by truck.

"Instead of doing important things, our time is consumed now by making sure we have enough water," Bergado, a 57-year-old audio-technician told AFP.

READ: Duterte orders release of water from Angat; MWSS says all waterways open

At least five public hospitals in the capital have started getting supplemental supplies from water tankers, as shortages had led at least one to limit admissions.

"This is the worst (water shortage) we have experienced. It almost happened last year but we were saved by heavy rains brought by storms," Dittie Galang, Manila Water communications manager, told AFP.

This photo taken on March 14, 2019, shows residents of Barangka, in Manila, gathering water. Manila has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, leaving bucket-bearing families to wait hours for a fill up from tanker trucks and some hospitals to turn away less urgent cases.
Noel Celis/AFP

The disruption could last until July when monsoon rains are typically in full swing and would replenish regional reservoirs, one of which is at a two-decade low.

Better known for flooding from its frequent typhoons, the Philippines is experiencing a dry spell that led to reserves being severely depleted. 

READ: Filipinos have varying concerns on drought as Philippines experiences El Niño — study

At the same time, the aging pipelines and dams that provide Manila's water have not kept pace with the growth of the mega-city, which has roughly doubled its population since 1985.

Residents of Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City, Manila, queue to receive water distributed on water tank truck and fire trucks on March 15, 2019. Manila has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, leaving bucket-bearing families to wait hours for a fill up from tanker trucks and some hospitals to turn away less urgent cases.
Noel Celis/AFP

The government has admitted that the problem of growing demand for water has long been forecast but they failed to address it due to delays in projects that would expand capacity.

"We need an alternative water source and we need it yesterday," Patrick Ty, chief of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, told ABS-CBN television.

Among the main projects in the pipeline is the construction of $355-million Kaliwa Dam, a Chinese-funded project that met resistance from indigenous peoples and church leaders for its feared effects on communities.

MANILA WATER WATER SHORTAGE
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