Angat can’t sustain additional water allocation

Danessa Rivera, Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Angat can�t sustain additional water allocation
The NWRB has approved a lower water allocation from Angat Dam from 52 cubic meters per second from June 1 to 15, to 50 CMS from June 16 to 30.
Kj Rosales

Metro Manila water interruptions feared

MANILA, Philippines — Angat Dam will not be able to sustain the current allocation of raw water for private concessionaires after June 15, according to the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), raising fears of serious water interruptions in Metro Manila.

The NWRB has approved a lower water allocation from Angat Dam from 52 cubic meters per second from June 1 to 15, to 50 CMS from June 16 to 30.

NWRB executive director Sevillo David Jr. admitted in a radio interview yesterday that Angat Dam in Bulacan can no longer keep its allocation of 52 CMS for Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water after June 15, amid the threat of El Niño.

With the current 52 CMS allocation, Maynilad assured the public there will be no water interruption – at least this month – in the northern part of its service area.

“The 52 CMS allocation will allow us to avoid interruption in the distribution system. When we implemented the 52 CMS in April, we were able to lift water interruption in areas supplied by Angat Dam,” Maynilad supply operations head Ronaldo Padua said at a media forum yesterday.

“Because of this new approval by the NWRB for 52 CMS, we expect that the continuity of the water supply will remain to our customers, especially in our area in the north that is supplied by the La Mesa Dam,” he said.

Maynilad’s northern concession area covers parts of Manila, Quezon City and the Camanava area.

Water interruption is being experienced in the southern part of Maynilad’s service area.

In a radio interview, David said it was during a meeting on Wednesday that the board decided to cut the water allotment for the two water concessionaires to 50 CMS starting June 16 to maintain water supply from Angat Dam.

“It is better for us to manage and prepare for the next months, particularly on the possible effects of the El Niño. The possible impacts (of the El Niño) include the decline in the amount of rainfall so by (third week of June), we will adjust the allocation from 52 CMS to 50 CMS,” David added.

David said a 15-day extension is enough for the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to implement the necessary repair of lines to increase the supply of water allocated to its customers.

The 52 CMS water allocation for Metro Manila and nearby provinces was supposed to end on May 31 but it was extended until June 15.

According to David, the water level at Angat Dam continues to drop as Typhoon Betty failed to bring enough rain to replenish it.

“The water level of Angat Dam is still dropping as Typhoon Betty did not recharge the dam, especially with the expected onset of the El Niño,” David added.

El Niño till Q1 next year

He noted that based on the projection of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the impact of the El Niño could be felt in the latter part of the year until the first quarter of 2024.

“We need to conserve the water level of Angat Dam as it is likely that we will be affected by the El Niño. We need to ensure that we still have water supply from Angat Dam to support the needs of the people,” he said.

At the same time, David again appealed to the public to conserve water and prevent wastage.

“Our call is for the public to be responsible and conserve water. We need to be prepared for the impact of the El Niño,” he said.

For the second half of the month, the MWSS projects continued water supply in the Maynilad concession area as long as “mitigating measures” are put in place.

“The consumers may experience interruptions during nighttime, but we are implementing mitigating measures. That’s why we are targeting to complete the mitigating measures in 15 days,” MWSS division manager Patrick Dizon said.

The NWRB is banking on efforts of the MWSS and water concessionaires to complete water recovery programs, like pipe repairs and development of treatment facilities in the first half of the month.

“We are hoping current efforts of MWSS and concessionaires to address water losses in the system. We are hoping they can recover enough water to augment supply so water services will continue even with the 50 CMS allocation starting June 16,” NWRB’s David said.

Of the mitigating measures, Maynilad’s non-revenue water program is seen to provide the biggest boost to water supply.

“We want to recover 100 million liters per day (MLD). That’s the commitment of Maynilad to recover by the end of this year. As of May, they were able to recover 74 MLD,” Dizon said.

“The NWRB also wants to recalibrate Maynilad’s commitment to further increase water recovery targets by end of this year,” he said.

Mitigating measures also include reactivating deep wells, improvement of operation in Maynilad’s Putatan water treatment plants, and the expected operation of the 50-MLD Poblacion treatment plant. “All of these measures will allow us to secure water requirement,” Dizon pointed out.

Help from habagat

The MWSS also expects the southwest monsoon or habagat to bring in rains to replenish water in dams before the onset of the El Niño phenomenon.

“We’re expecting rains which will help raise elevation in the Ipo dam, which can deliver more supply to the La Mesa Dam. Therefore, this will fill the two CMS reduction in water allocation beginning June 16,” Dizon said.

“Historically, the elevation of Angat Dam increases by July. We are hopeful that by June or July, the habagat will help increase the elevation of dams,” he said.

As of 6 a.m. yesterday, water level at Angat Dam was at 189.64 meters, or 0.17 meter lower than the previous 189.81 meters on Wednesday,

The water level at the Angat Dam was still 6.10 meters above the so-called rule curve elevation of 183.54 meters, or just enough for the dam to function.

Angat Dam supplies more than 90 percent of Metro Manila’s potable water needs and provides for the irrigation requirements of 25,000 hectares of farmlands in Bulacan and Pampanga.

Areas hit most by the eight to 14 hour daily water cutoff before the 52 CMS water allocation took effect on April 15, were Maynilad customers in Manila, Quezon City, Makati, Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon; the cities of Cavite, Bacoor and Imus and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario in Cavite.

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