Present Metro Manila water shortage
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - March 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Metro Manilans queued to store precious water this week. Those who could afford to rushed to buy water containers. Many of them complained that they were not informed about water interruption or shortage until their faucets ran dry.


What happened? Why did water run out for many Metro Manila households?

Various explanations have been offered, including those that point to this water problem as a staged, artificial, or a real crisis.

In November, 2016, a newspaper article reported that Maynilad Water Services, a private water concessionaire, raised the alert that “Metro Manila faces a water crisis unless the government finds a source to supplement the Umiray-Angat-Ipo or Angat reservoir system, which will not be able to meet the needs of its more than 15 million inhabitants four years from now.”

It is still not 2020 yet. Water level at Angat Dam, by March 14, was 199.63 meters, below the normal water level but not yet within the critical level of 195 meters!

Maynilad continues to supply water but another private concessionaire, Manila water, claimed it did not have enough water supply. Both source their water supply from Angat Dam.

While, undoubtedly, Metro Manila and the rest of the Philippines need to prepare for a real water crisis in the near future, is the present water crisis fake as Du30’s government claims?

The present water shortage also questions whether water should be privatized or not. With climate change and El Niño clearly challenging water supply and quality, everyone, not only government, should work together to manage water more responsibly and effectively. Definitely, aside from Angat Dam and Metro Manila, alternative water sources are needed nationwide.

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Chief Regulator Patrick Ty mentioned that this government, not MWSS, is partly to blame for the present water shortage for failing “to build alternative water sources to address the demand of a growing population.”

Critics of Du30 have also raised the issue that this present water shortage may be a staged crisis, under the direction of those who are pushing, under Du30’s term, for the Chinese contractors to immediately proceed with the construction of Kaliwa Dam Project.

Aside from the issue of whether or not it is wise for this government to have the Chinese take over this project, the following objections that have been raised against the Kaliwa Dam Project are worth serious consideration:

“1.) Inundation of the ancestral domain of the Dumagat-Remontados, uprooting them from the Sierra Madre where their ancestors lived for centuries enjoying a symbiotic relationship with the earth, like the children to their mother. The indigenous people have not given an FPIC (Free Prior and Informed Consent) to the Kaliwa dam project as required by R.A. 8371;

2.) Kaliwa dam will be constructed over the Infanta Fault endangering 100,000 people living downstream of the Kaliwa River;

3.) No study has been made on climate and its effect on the Kaliwa dam;

4.) Although in the pipeline for 30 years now, this project which is connected with the Laiban dam does not have, until now, the necessary Environmental Compliance Certificate as mandated by R.A. 7586, and,

5.) While the World Commission on Dams mandated by the World Bank and the World Conservation Union reported in 2000 that dams have made an important and significant contribution to human development, and benefits derived from them considerable, but, in too many cases, an unacceptable and often unnecessary price has been paid to secure those benefits, especially in social and environmental terms by people displaced, by communities downstream, by taxpayers and by the natural environment.”

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