MWSS ‘confident’ water allocation will be stable in April, May


By Sheldeen Joy Talavera, Reporter

THE METROPOLITAN Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is confident that the raw water allocation for Metro Manila will be maintained until May as the El Niño weather event shows signs of weakening.

“We are confident that our allocation will still be maintained given the expected return to normal conditions in April and May,” Patrick James Dizon, head of the MWSS Angat/Ipo operations management division, told BusinessWorld in a Viber message.

The statement comes after the three-month conservative rainfall projection of the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) saw a reduction in water allocation in April and May, assuming that the water level in Angat Dam will go below 180 meters — the minimum operating level.

“In our projection, we might decrease allocation until May because the water level should not be lower than 180 meters — that’s what we are preventing,” NWRB Policy and Program Division Chief Susan P. Abaño said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

Aside from monthly assessments, Ms. Abaño said that the Angat Technical Working Group is conducting a long-term assessment of Angat’s water level to prepare strategies.

She said that the projected cut in water allocation may change in the coming months depending on the amount of rainfall.

Citing data from the state weather bureau, Mr. Dizon said that El Niño is now showing signs of weakening, which now starts to “decay” in the next months amid the transition to La Niña.

“Hence, the rainfall within the Angat watershed is forecasted to return to normal in April/May,” he said.

Angat Dam is the primary water source for Metro Manila, providing approximately 90% of the capital’s potable water.

As of Thursday morning, the water level in Angat Dam is at 205.93 meters, lower than the 206.11 meters seen the previous day. This was below the normal high-water level of 212 meters.

For March, the NWRB has kept its water allocation to MWSS at 50 cubic meters per second (cms).

If the water allocation is lower than 50 cms, Mr. Dizon said this may result in “reduction in water pressure and some interruption for minimal hours in some areas, especially at high elevated areas.”

He said the MWSS and its water concessionaires have prepared augmentation measures through water treatment plants and deep wells that will provide additional water supply.

Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Co, Inc., said if the allocation would be reduced to 48 cms, they may make some adjustments to ensure continuous water supply for their customers.

“We would have to make some system adjustments so that service levels would not be unduly affected. At most, pressure management would be done to manage supply distribution and losses,” Jennifer C. Rufo, head of Maynilad’s corporate communications, said in a Viber message.

She said Maynilad can meet the water requirements of its customers due to the supply generated from its augmentation projects.

Dittie L. Galang, head of Manila Water’s corporate communications, said that the company may implement pressure reduction during off-peak demand hours.

“Manila Water has been planning for contingencies way ahead of the onset… through regular maintenance of facilities, water lines and equipment and continuous non-revenue water… recovery through aggressive leak repairs and pipe replacement projects,” she said in a Viber message.

However, customers in Metro Manila may expect water service interruptions if the water allocation were reduced to 46 cms.

“Ultimately, the impact will also depend on the level of demand, reason why we encourage all consumers to manage their water consumption as early as now. Prioritize water use for activities that are critical for maintaining health and sanitation,” Ms. Rufo said.

Manila Water serves the east zone network of Metro Manila, covering parts of Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Pateros, Mandaluyong, San Juan, portions of Quezon City and Manila, and several towns in Rizal province.

Maynilad serves the cities of Manila, except San Andres and Sta. Ana. It also operates in Quezon City, Makati, Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas, and Malabon. It also supplies the cities of Cavite, Bacoor, and Imus, and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta, and Rosario, all in Cavite province.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

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