By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Metro Manila, home to 12 million people, will not run out of water during the COVID-19)pandemic, but Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) still sees the need to properly manage the declining water level in the capital’s ageing reservoirs.
In a statement, MWSS’ Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) said Metro Manila’s source of water supply, namely Angat, Ipo and La Mesa Dam, are stable and that there is enough water to last this summer season.
“Overall, the capacity of storage at the dams are good,” the agency said.
However, it noted that it would still be “desirable to fill Angat Dam up to its upper rule curve and to veer away from the conservation zone as projected to likely to occur if supply is not properly managed”.
As of Wednesday, the level of water in Angat dam, which supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s water needs, is at 192.98 meters, which is lower than its spilling level of 217 meters.
Nevertheless, MWSS-RO noted that this is still more than 4 meters higher than the normal rule curve elevation of 188.53 meters.
As for the water level in La Mesa dam, which is used as reserve raw water storage for emergencies or water shortage, it is still way above its critical water level of 75 meters.
MWSS-RO emphasized that there is still no disruption to the raw water supply to portals to trigger an emergency water shortage, which means the situation doesn’t still warrant withdrawal from the La Mesa reservoir.
“While there may have been disruptions in water supply availability, said disruptions are due to leak repairs, operational adjustments, and network maintenance activities to improve water supply availability,” the agency said.
It also said that the weather outlook from April to September as predicted by Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) indicates near normal rainfall, a favorable forecast for Metro Manila’s water dams.
“Though the summer heat and the spread of the COVID-19 had seen an uptick in domestic water consumption, we assure the public that mitigation measures and technical solutions are in place to optimize our existing water supplies,” MWSS-RO said.
“We continue to appeal for continued vigilance on the responsible use of water as we go about the hygiene protocols to prevent the spread of the corona virus, avoid wasteful water practices, and always keep water conservation in mind,” it added.
As early as March, MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat already said that although there will still be frequent water service interruptions due to depleting supply at the capital’s reservoirs, there will be no repeat of last year’s water woes, wherein some households had to endure daily water service interruption for 12 hours in the span of a week.
“We ask the public to stay calm and just store enough water,” Salamat said. “We will live day by day while we assess our current situation and implement measures to cope with the future requirements of Metro Manila and other service areas within MWSS jurisdiction including Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan”.
To recall, the Department of Health (DOH) said that one of the protective measures amid the spread of COVID-19 is the frequent and proper handwashing, which should last for at least 20 seconds.
Some companies were also forced to allow their employees to work from home amid the implementation of community quarantine in NCR, which also suspended classes at all levels until April 12.
Because of this, Jennifer Rufo, Maynilad Water Services Inc.’s head for stakeholders communications office, said her company indeed “expects an increase in water consumption among residents at this time.”