Manila Water said Wednesday its customers will continue to experience six- to 20-hour service interruptions as the water level in La Mesa Dam continues to drop.
“Some areas will experience up to 20 hours a day without water,” Dittie Galang, a spokesperson for Manila Water, said in Filipino on radio dzMM. “They will have water for only four hours, but we can guarantee that within those four hours, they will have water coming through their faucets.”
“Most of our barangays will experience 10 to 11 hours of water service interruption, but some will have no water for only six hours.”
Galang said the water concessionaire is working on a scheme that would have scheduled service interruptions spread out over the entire east zone of Metro Manila.
Some 52,000 households in Manila Water’s east zone have had little or no water for the last week, with interruptions occurring unannounced.
“Under the new scheme, there will be a specific time, and the interruptions will not be concentrated only in one area. The entire east zone will be hit, with no water, or low water pressure at certain hours of the day,” she said.
She admitted the company’s move to reduce water pressure in some service areas failed.
Meanwhile, Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said six water tankers would be sent to hospitals in areas affected by the water shortage.
“We are ready to address the needs of the hospitals because we have water tankers that are capable of filling up a high-pressure water system,” Gordon said in a statement.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System administrator Reynaldo Velasco said his agency has identified deep wells that can be activated to deliver 100 million liters of water a day to help with the shortage.
Manila Water chief operating officer Geodino Carpio said an extra 50 MLD will come from the company’s treatment plant in Cardona, Rizal, which is expected to be operational later this month.
Carpio said the Cardona plant was supposed to go online in December but was delayed by problems in the contractor’s design.
At the Palace, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said an executive order would “address the fragmentation in the water sector by providing the framework for an integrated and coordinated effort in planning and implementing the programs and projects to address all issues in the water sector.”
“The Duterte administration knows that these issues have to be addressed and we know the fundamental challenges involved. Our priority now is to provide the President with a way to resolve these issues, and we should be threshing out the details in the next few days,” Nograles said.
“The components include water supply, sewerage, and sanitation, irrigation, flood management, watershed management, financing, policy formulation, and coordination. Obviously, we need a whole-of-government approach to water, and that is on the agenda in the next CAS [Cabinet Assistance System] meeting,” Nograles added.
At the same time, the Philippine Air Force said it was ready to assist the Department of Agriculture in its cloud seeding efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of water shortage in many areas.
Maj. Aristides Galang, PAF spokesperson, said talks with the DA are now under way.
Galang added that before seeding can be done, seedable clouds must be located in the area scheduled for the operation.
The Senate committee on public services, chaired by Senator Grace Poe, is set to conduct a hearing on the water crisis on March 19.
“We will call for the hearing as part of the committee’s oversight functions over the country’s utilities. What we are seeing now is not normal and something that our households and farmers do not deserve,” Poe said.
The hearing will gather officials of concerned agencies, heads of water concessionaires, regulators and other concerned stakeholders to discuss the crisis and come up with solutions to ease the impact of the supply shortage.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said it was unusual that only Manila Water, serving the east zone of Metro Manila, suffered supply problems, unlike Maynilad Water Services, which serves the west zone.
“One service provider is saying there is a problem, the other says [there is] none. That is something, I think, the regulators should investigate,” Angara said.
Poe earlier pushed for the passage of a bill that seeks to establish a single agency that would be in charge of sustainable water management and sanitation.
She said the proposed Water Regulatory Act aims to rationalize and streamline the functions of various state agencies in terms of water regulation. With PNAREAD: El Niño destroys P464-million rice, corn READ: Government vows swift action to ease El Niño-induced water shortageREAD: Philippine-wide alert as El Niño sears North Luzon, CotabatoREAD: Agriculture prepares to cushion El NiñoREAD: El Niño impact heats up early, drought in 22 provinces seen
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