A water crisis?

Published March 17, 2019, 12:46 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Dr. Jun Ynares
Dr. Jun Ynares

Antipolo City’s Public Information Office has consistently and conscientiously shared the Water Service Interruption advisory issued the past few days by Manila Water, the concessionaire which supplies water to a portion of Metro Manila and Rizal province.

Manila Water’s advisory begins with the standard plea for understanding on the part of the public. The fact is that the public understands that the current water supply situation appears to be one big mess. Manila Water, for its part, also needs to understand how people deprived of reliable water supply feel at a time like this – when the weather is searing hot and the faucets are dry.

In fairness to Manila Water, it has been doing its public information task well, thanks to a communication team led by Engineer Jeric Sevilla. The concessionaire appears to have a solid stakeholder communication program in place. This is one program that comes in handy at times when the public’s patience is being tried and their trust in a service provider is being tested.

The reason behind what seems to be a looming water crisis is clear to us, and we understand that it may not be Manila Water’s fault. A recent social media post by Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) chief regulator Patrick Ty has given the issue one of the best explanations.

Attorney Ty posted this enlightening piece:

“To those affected by the water shortage recently – Manila Water is being given 1600 MLD from Angat Dam (Maynilad is given 2400 MLD). This was in 1997. Manila Water was able to reduce non-revenue water from 60 percent to 12 percent which has addressed the increasing population in the east side of Metro Manila.

The population keeps increasing and they cannot reduce it below 12 percent anymore (the international standard is 20 percent). Manila Water has been warning that there will be a water shortage if we do not have a new water source soon and they announced it again just last year. Metro Manila has no new water source because of the opposition to Kaliwa Dam, Laiban Dam, etc.

Due to the increasing population, Metro Manila’s water requirement is now 1750 MLD. Their allocation of 1600 MLD is no longer enough so they have to use the reserve water at La Mesa Dam. Since it has not been raining, their reserve is not getting replenished. This is the reason why we have a water shortage in the Manila Water service area.

We need new water source and we need it soon.”

We are grateful to Attorney Ty for the valuable clarification. The public hopes that the government – which is responsible for looking for and developing those new water sources – will be able to find them and make them operational soon.

On the part of Rizaleños and Antipoleños, we wonder why the government has not maximized the potential of the waters of Laguna Lake.

About two years ago, we shared in this column a water supply project which Manila Water and the Rizal Provincial Government under the leadership of Governor Nini Ynares have put in place. This is the Rizal Province Water Supply Improvement Project (RPWSIP). The idea is to draw water from Laguna Lake; process the water at a plant which Manila Water built in Cardona, Rizal; and distribute the water to businesses and households in seven Rizal towns –Jalajala, Pililla, Cardona, Tanay, Baras, Morong, and Binangonan.

If more water can be drawn from Laguna Lake and more plants can be built to process that water for household and industrial use, the other Rizal towns and Antipolo City will have to rely less on the water that comes all the way from Angat Dam.

Tapping the water of Laguna Lake will also mean that Rizaleños and Antipoleños will not have to wait for the government to address the opposition to the use of Laiban and Kaliwa Dams. When the government succeeds in tapping those new water sources, Rizal and Antipolo may not have to compete for a major allocation against the other cities of Metro Manila.

The reliable supply of clean water is important to Rizal and Antipolo. This is a vital factor which has led to the rapid socio-economic growth. This is why Rizal province is now a Hall of Famer in the roster of the country’s most competitive provinces, having topped that list for several years.

The same is true for Antipolo.

We cannot afford to lose that competitive advantage. This is an aspiration that has been shared by and committed to by the leadership of Manila Water, particularly Messrs. Gerry Ablaza, Ferdz dela Cruz, and Ding Carpio.

As we said many times in the past, the presence of reliable, clean, and environment-friendly water supply contributed to the rapid growth of the city’s population composed of so-called “Antipoleños-by-choice.”

These are families who opted to build their homes in Antipolo’s many new subdivisions developed by some of our country’s biggest names in the real property sector. This is where they have opted to raise their children, and enjoy the quality of life they have always aspired for.

We have to work harder together so as not to dampen that aspiration.

Let’s take those decisive steps now to make sure water shortage does not hit us again in the future.

*For feedback, please email it to [email protected] or send it to #4 Horse Shoe Drive, Beverly Hills Subdivision, Bgy. Beverly Hills, Antipolo City, Rizal.