Villanueva seeks probe on government’s water crisis preparedness

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva wants an inquiry into the government's preparedness for a possible water crisis with the coming dry season.

Senator Joel Villanueva gestures during the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development hearing on the deaths of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), February 21,2018.(Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN) Senator Joel Villanueva (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Villanueva recently filed Senate Resolution No. 329, seeking to look into the preparation of concerned government agencies, water concessionaires and other stakeholders to avert the negative effects of the anticipated water shortage in the summer months.

He recalled the water crisis that gripped Metro Manila last year which resulted in drastic water conservation efforts of businesses and establishments, including hospitals, and the “turning away of patients with less urgent cases."

"The water shortage in 2019 caught most of our people by surprise. It’s almost a year since the shortage happened so we’re expecting that the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and its two concessionaires are better prepared this time," Villanueva said on Tuesday.

"Our experience last year shows that Metro Manila has inadequate water supply. Our regulator and concessionaires should be able to respond to this upcoming problem," he reiterated.

In his resolution filed last February 18, the lawmaker pointed out that "there is a need to closely monitor the national water programs, activities, and projects being implemented and undertaken by the government to demand not only its prioritization but also its timeliness and effectivity in recognition of the people’s Constitutional right to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology."

"This is especially more so considering that Angat Dam has not reached its ideal level of 212 meters," he added.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration said the dam’s water level is at 202.23 meters as of 6 a.m. of February 25.

Angat Dam is one of the main sources of water for Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Aside from the government's preparedness, the resolution also seeks updates on the projects of the MWSS including the Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project, the Kaliwa Dam, and the Ipo Dam 3 Project, among other issues.