Residents affected by rotational water service interruptions wait for water tankers and fire trucks to fill their containers at South Triangle in Quezon City the other night.
Miguel de Guzman
Angat to hit critical level
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - June 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — If the water level in Angat Dam in Bulacan drops below 160 meters, there will be further reduction in the allocation for potable water supply to Metro Manila residents serviced by concessionaires of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) said yesterday.

Data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration showed that as of 6 a.m. yesterday, Angat Dam’s water level was at 160.73 meters. That is 0.57 meters less than Wednesday’s level of 161.30 meters.

The NWRB said that since Wednesday, allocation for Metro Manila’s water concessionaires was already reduced from the original 46 cubic meters per second to 40 CMS.

NWRB executive director Sevillo David said that if there will be a further drop in Angat’s water level to below 160 meters, they will be forced to implement a 36 CMS allocation to MWSS, which might take effect on Saturday.

The water in Angat Dam, which supplies 96 percent of Metro Manila’s tap water needs for its 12.8 million residents, comes from the watershed’s river basin that straddles the towns of Doña Remedios Trinidad, Norzagaray and San Jose del Monte in Bulacan.

The NWRB also said that apart from reduction of water allocation, several measures will be undertaken to manage the remaining water, including the operationalization of the Angat Dam Low Level Outlet (LLO), the bottom channel capable of releasing water below 160 meters.

“We have started to rehabilitate and subject the LLO to tests since March. It showed that water quality there is manageable,” David said.  

This will reportedly be undertaken while cloud-seeding operations and reactivation of the MWSS deep wells are continuously implemented.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu yesterday urged local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila to prioritize the passing of an ordinance directing their constituents to observe water conservation practices.

“It is high time that the LGUs pass ordinances geared at water conservation to prevent the water problem from worsening,” Cimatu said.

He explained that these ordinances would have “immediate positive effect” on the water and food security being pushed at the national level by agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, NWRB and National Irrigation Authority.

The DENR made the call after the NWRB said it will reduce water allocation to the MWSS once water level in Angat Dam dips below 160 meters. This will affect the regular delivery of water service provided by Metro Manila concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water.

At the same time, the DENR chief advised Metro Manila residents to continue observing water conservation measures and recycle rain water to help prevent further decline of the water level in Angat Dam.

“Simple water conservation measures could help lessen the demand for Angat Dam’s water in the millions of liters,” he said.

Warning to water firms

The MWSS has warned the two concessionaires Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc. that they could be held liable for the schedule of water supply interruption especially now that allocation has been further reduced as Angat Dam nears the critical threshold.

The MWSS-Regulatory Office warned Maynilad and Manila Water to follow their published schedule of water interruptions or face possible penalties.

“Should non-adherence continue, this may constitute a violation of the concession agreement and the MWSS-RO shall recommend the imposition of appropriate penalties,” MWSS chief regulator Patrick Ty said.

Both concessionaires are required to notify their customers of any planned service interruptions under their concession agreement.

NWRB continues to fine-tune the preparation of the LLO as a back-up water discharge before the Angat Dam water level reaches 160 meters and lessen the significant effect of limited water supply in the coming days.

With the cut in allocation, 75 percent of the customer base of west zone concessionaire Maynilad will be affected while more than 80 percent of east zone Manila Water will be hit.

NWRB is urging the public to conserve water to reduce the water demand from Angat to prevent the rapid decline of water level and contribute to its recovery. With Louise Maureen Simeon

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