House Committees ready to look into water supply shortage, sudden interruption

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability expressed Saturday their readiness to look into the sudden water interruption and reported water supply shortage experienced by residents in the National Capital Region (NCR), Rizal and Cavite.

Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, chairman of the panel, said even as his panel is ready to step in, they are leaving it up the House Committee on Metro Manila Development and House Committee on Housing and Urban Development to investigate the matter that concerns public interest.

Residents fetch water from a deep well at Brgy. Old Capitol in Quezon City Friday, March 15, 2019. Other sources of water, such as this one, play a great part nowadays where low water supply is expected due to continuing decrease of water level of dams that supply water in Metro Manila. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)
Residents fetch water from a deep well at Brgy. Old Capitol in Quezon City Friday, March 15, 2019. Other sources of water, such as this one, play a great part nowadays where low water supply is expected due to the continuing decrease of water level of dams that supply water in Metro Manila. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)

“For now it’s up to the two committees. When we resume session and the resolution is referred to us, we can then investigate or even join the two panels since they already have an open inquiry on the matter,” he said in an interview.

He said the two panels “would be the appropriate venue for the House to look into the matter in the meantime.”

“Technically, the resolution has to be referred to the committee first before we can act on it and referral can only be done in plenary during a session of the House. So, under our rules, the Committee can’t take it up yet,” Romualdo said.

The Lower Chamber adjourned session on February 8 to pave way for the election campaign and is expected to buckle down to work on May 20 to June 7.

Under House Resolution 2518, Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate specifically asked the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to hold a hearing on the issue, citing the plight of thousands of people who were affected by the water interruption.

“Thousands of people were deprived of water service since March 8 and were reduced to waiting for water tankers or opening fire hydrants just to have water,” he said in filing HR 2518.

Under the resolution, Zarate scored the failure of Manila Water and Maynilad to put in place measures in preparation for El Niño phenomenon.

MAGDALO partylist Rep. Gary Alejano also filed House Resolution No. 2520 seeking congressional probe on the water service interruptions, describing it as “a matter of utmost public interest and deserves the immediate attention of Congress.”

He said there is a need ”to uncover its roots in order to employ measures to mitigate its effects and prevent such incident from occurring in other parts of the country, and from persisting in the future.”

“Guaranteeing the steady and stable supply of clean water for the whole country is part of the government’s responsibility to promote the general welfare and protect the right to health of our people. As a rule, the discharge from dams for potable water supply becomes the priority during cases of drought effectively reducing water releases for agricultural irrigation and power generation, and this may cause serious security concerns if left unabated,” Alejano said.

On March 8, 2019, Manila Water on its website said that it will be “implementing operational adjustments that may affect water service across the entire East Zone” to help arrest the rapid decline of the water level of La Mesa Dam due to limited rainfall. According to the advisory, 108 areas would experience interrupted water services, but it did not specify the dates or time of the water interruption.

Maynilad, on the other hand, announced its own water interruption schedule for the West zone of NCR for March 10 to 11.

 
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