Water shortage may last till June

Published March 11, 2019, 1:27 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz and Madelaine Miraflor

La Mesa Dam in Quezon City breached its 69-meter critical low water level on Monday after registering 68.93 meters, just 0.18 meters short of its record-low 68.75 meters recorded in 1998.

The current water level of the La Mesa Dam, March 11 2019 after it was declared to be in critical level as it dropped to 68.93 meters, March 11 2019. Authorities are advising the public to save water. The normal level of the dam is 80 meters. (Mark Balmores)
The current water level of the La Mesa Dam, March 11 2019 after it was declared to be in critical level as it dropped to 68.93 meters, March 11 2019. Authorities are advising the public to save water. The normal level of the dam is 80 meters. (Mark Balmores)

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysi­cal, and Astronomical Services Admin­istration (PAGASA) hydrologist Ailene Abelardo said that at around 6 a.m. Monday, La Mesa Dam reached 68.93 meters, down from last Sunday’s 69.02 meters. Its normal high water level is 80.15 meters.

With the depleted water supply due to El Niño, customers of Manila Water Company, Inc. will continue to experience low pressure to no water service interruptions throughout the summer months.

“We will implement [scheduled water service interruptions] until summer months. That will be up to June or when the rainy season begins,” Dittie Galang, Manila Water head of planning and tacti­cal development corporate communica­tions, said.

Galang said her company would be implementing “operational adjustments” in the way it will release its water supply to its customers.

Manila Water sources its water from Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system. To be specific, water from Angat passes through Ipo Dam, from where it is re­leased to La Mesa Dam.

Unlike Manila Water, Maynilad Water Services, Inc. doesn’t get water from La Mesa Dam, which is why the company has not yet to issue scheduled supply interruptions, said Madeleine R. Zaide, media relations manager at Maynilad.

Manila Water, which currently has 6 million customers, provides water to 23 cities and municipalities in Metro Manila and Rizal. These include Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan, Taguig, Marikina, and parts of Quezon City and Manila. The towns of Angono, Baras, Binangonan, Cainta, Cardona, Jalajala, Morong, Pililia, Rodriguez, Tanay, Tay­tay, Teresa, San Mateo and Antipolo in the province of Rizal are also part of the East Zone.

Maynilad, on the other hand, has 9 million customers from Manila (all but portions of San Andres and Sta. Ana), Quezon City (west of San Juan River, West Avenue, EDSA, Congressional, Mindanao Avenue, the northern part starting from the Districts of Holy Spirit and Batasan Hills), Makati (west of South Super High­way), Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon, all in Metro Manila; the cities of Cavite, Bacoor and Imus, and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario, all in the Province of Cavite.

PAGASA said reduced rainfall is one of the most common impacts of an El Niño, and the country is currently af­fected by a weak El Niño event. The 1997-1998 El Niño occurrence was also among the strongest events in history.

Abelardo pointed out that PAGASA has observed a significant reduction in rainfall over the catchment area of La Mesa Dam since September 2018. “So in January this year, La Mesa Dam’s water level was at 74 to 75 meters, which is significantly lower than the previous years,” she said.

With the dam’s critical level, “there will be a limited” water source for a portion of Metro Manila’s water con­sumers.

While La Mesa Dam is now in criti­cal level, Angat Dam – which supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s domestic water needs and irrigation for 27,000 hectares of farmlands in Bulacan and Pampanga – is “still high,” Abelardo said.

As of Monday, Angat Dam’s water level was 200.59 meters, or higher than its low water level of 180 meters.

PAGASA weather specialist Lanie Bitagun said there is a low chance of rainfall in Metro Manila, and most parts of Luzon and Visayas this Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government is concerned about the situation, assuring that the government will do something to address the issue.

“We’re always concerned with respect to any problem affecting the welfare of people,” he said Monday.

“Yes, we will respond to that. Pero ang problema ata yung tubig manggagaling sa langit. Walang ulan. Pag walang ulan, paano? Baka mag-aantay tayo (But I think the problem is there is no rain. We would have to wait if that’s the case),” he added.

Although he has not talked about the situation yet with the President, Panelo said one thing that can be done is cloud-seeding or the spreading of chemicals into the clouds to promote rainfall. (With a report from Argyll B. Geducos)

 

 
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