By Hannah L. Torregoza
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the impending water shortage could pose a serious problem for the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Gatchalian issued the warning following the National Water Resources Board’s (NWRB) announcement that service interruptions will be implemented in some areas in Metro Manila in the coming weeks.
This is because Angat Dam, which supplies 96 percent of Metro Manila’s water requirement, remains at a low level. As of March 13, the water elevation of Angat dam was 200.41 meters, 11.59 meters below the dam’s normal high water level of 212 meters.
As Metro Manila braces for a possible water interruption during the summer season, Gatchalian said an insufficient water supply could threaten efforts in containing or curbing the coronavirus disease.
Gatchalian said water concessionaires should ensure an uninterrupted water supply to households, hospitals, and medical facilities where confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated, adding that water is fundamental in ensuring treatment, hygiene, and sanitation especially in the wake of such disease outbreaks.
“We cannot compromise the health of the people. Water is fundamental in ensuring hygiene and sanitation, infection control, and prevention measures, that is why we cannot afford water shortage at this critical time,” Gatchalian said.
Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the most effective way to protect oneself against COVID-19 is by frequently washing hands with soap and water.
Doing so can eliminate the virus that may be on one’s hands and avoid infection that could occur by touching the eyes, mouth, and nose.
The senator lamented that Filipinos are at particular risk from the water shortage, particularly those with compromised immune systems, and there is also a heightened possibility of an uptick in respiratory illnesses, making people more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Accordingly, the NWRB has allowed the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to use its existing deepwells to augment water supply for the two concessionaires, Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services.
Gatchalian said the NWRB should deliver on its commitment of aggressively monitoring water shortage in Metro Manila.