Idle reservoirs eyed to boost water supply

Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas - The Philippine Star
Idle reservoirs eyed to boost water supply
A resident lines up his containers to collect water amidst the intense heat in Binondo, Manila on April 23, 2024.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The government is converting idle dams for irrigation into raw water sources for utility firms and districts to boost the country’s potable water supply, according to an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

DENR Undersecretary Carlos Primo David said one of the measures being done by the government to address the lack of potable water is by converting dams for irrigation into multipurpose reservoirs.

David said the agency has started converting dams in Cavite, which has 22 idle reservoirs.

These dams lost their purpose after the farms they used to irrigate were converted into residential communities.

The dams were managed and maintained by the National Irrigation Administration.

About 600,000 Filipinos within the west zone concession in Cavite do not have access to formal water supply or water from piped sources, David said.

“Companies like Maynilad can now access water from these dams to serve their consumers in Cavite,” he said in a recent press briefing. “No one actually knew that we have 22 dams in Cavite. All of them are now accessible for potable water supply.”

David said 18 of the dams would be turned over to the provincial government and four others to Maynilad.

Of the 18 idle dams, 13 have been turned over to the provincial government.

David said the population growth in Cavite is about 3.6 percent faster than the national average of 1.9 percent.

He said that due to this, demand for potable water in the province would increase further in the coming years.

At present the population of Cavite is about 4.4 million.

Ronald Padua, vice president and chief of Maynilad’s water supply operations division, said the four dams that would be turned over to the water concessionaire have an aggregate capacity of 44 million liters per day.

Padua said one of the four dams is operating and the rest are expected to function starting on the third quarter of this year to end of next year, or early part of 2026.

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