By Madelaine B. Miraflor
As many as 6,500 farmers have been affected by the decision of the government to increase Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s (MWSS) raw water allocation from the 53-year old Angat Dam.
In a statement issued by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), it was briefly mentioned that 6,500 farmers in the South Sector of Angat Afterbay Regulator Dam (Bustos Dam) located at Barangay Tibagan, Bustos, Bulacan have not been covered by irrigation service delivery during the last cropping season.
This, according to NIA Region 3 Manager Josephine Salazar, paved the way for the increased water allocation given to households in the National Capital Region (NCR) through the MWSS and its concessionaires, Manila Water Company Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc.
It was MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat who said earlier this month that MWSS’ water allocation from Angat Dam would be maintained at 48 cubic meters per second (CMS), from the previous 46 CMS, until the end of June 2020.
He said the overriding reason for the said request was to ensure that water supply is available as the metropolis continues to fight COVID-19.
In exchange for this, Salazar said MWSS offered to provide a total of P15 million worth of subsidies and financial assistance to affected farmers.
Metro Manila, home to 12 million people, gets 97 percent of its water needs from Angat Dam, which is being distributed by Manila Water and Maynilad.
Throughout April and May, Metro Manila’s water demand has reached an all-time high particularly due to extreme heat.
At 48 CMS allocation, Manila Water and Maynilad were able to reduce the time that they had to implement water service interruptions during this period.
For instance, MWSS said almost 100 percent of customers in the East Zone now enjoy 24/7 supply, while 80 to 90 percent of customers in the West Zone already have 24-hour supply, with daily rotational water service interruptions isolated only during off-peak hours in “high demand” and elevated areas.
The National Water Resources Board (NWRB), the one tasked to regulate the use of the country’s water resources, expects that even with higher allocation for MWSS within this month, Angat Dam will still be at a comfortable level of 188 meters, or more than 8 meters above the critical level.
MWSS likewise projected inflows of 55 CMS from Umiray-Angat-Ipo tributaries, which will offset the drawdowns from the Angat dam.
As of June 19, the water level in Angat Dam stood at 188.41 meters, below its spilling level of 217 meters but way above its critical level of 160 meters.
The issue on MWSS’ increased raw water allocation in Angat Dam and the affected farmers was brought up by NIA as it conducted an ocular inspection of the on-going rehabilitation at Bustos Dam, which suffered a delay after a collapse at its Rubber Gate No. 5 has been reported.