By Chito Chavez
The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) on Saturday said an increase in water allocation for Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System (MWSS) remains unlikely but maintained that no reduction of water supply is in the offing with the approach of the summer months.
NWRB Executive Director Sevillo David Jr. said the NWRB aims to at least maintain the 42 cubic meters per second (cms) allocation in the coming months to lessen the impact of the dry spell to the public and ensure a sufficient water supply during summer.
With this declaration, David reiterated that raw water from Angat Dam for domestic use in Metro Manila, Cavite and Rizal is expected to be maintained at a sub-normal level of 42 cms for the third consecutive month this March.
Maintaining a 42 cms water allocation, David explained will avoid a reduction in supply until things go back to normal levels.
Normally, the MWSS gets 46 cms from Angat but in 2019 it only received a low of 36 cms when water level at the Angat Dam fell below the critical level of 160 meters above sea level.
Less in April
David also said water supply for irrigation will likewise be maintained at 20 cms or 50 percent of the normal supply for farms. This should be maintained in March since this is the time when crops are at their vegetative stage adding that water allocation may be lessened in April when the crops are almost ready for harvest.
As of Saturday morning water level at Angat Dam was at 202.48 meters above sea level (masl).
The NWRB earlier warned the public to brace for lower water allocation in Metro Manila as the measure is necessary to avoid a repeat of last summer’s water shortage where millions of households were severely affected.
“Authorities cannot increase the water allocation for houses to the normal 46 cubic meters per second from the current 40 m³/s because Angat Dam, Metro Manila’s main water source, was still below its normal operating level,” the NWRB explained.
David asked for public understanding citing the move will avoid another water crisis where howls of protests were hurled against the government.
He noted the water shortage last summer affected some 1.2 million households in the east zone of Metro Manila, serviced by Ayala-led Manila Water.
Manila Water traced last summer’s water shortage woes to the increased demand, lack of rains, delays in infrastructure projects supposed to boost supply and the declining level of the La Mesa Dam.
Meanwhile, senators are pushing for the construction of a potable water supply system for municipalities and villages in the country that still have no access to drinking water.
Relly Leysa, project manager of the Department of Interior and Local Government’s Salintubig Program said there are only 60 towns in the Philippines that are still waterless.
Sen. Imee Marcos has proposed an increase in the budget of the Salintubig Program, which she said has “stagnated” for three years at P1.5 billion.
Leysa said thru the Salintubig Program, the government aims to give all municipalities access to safe water by 2030. (With a report from Vanne Elaine Terrazola)