The House of Representatives is urging the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System as well as other agencies to formulate a national water security plan to ensure the uninterrupted supply of the vital commodity to households and other users.
Before it adjourned sine die on Tuesday, the House passed House Resolution 2593 authored by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo mandating government agencies involved in water supply and distribution to seek a long term solution to the water supply problem in Metro Manila and other major urban centers.
Arroyo filed the resolution at the height of the water crisis in the Ayala-led Manila Water Company’s franchise area, where consumers were subjected to supply interruptions of up to 12 hours a day for several weeks.
While the water supply has normalized in many areas consumers still complain of low pressure in many areas.
The resolution states there is a need to safeguard and ensure the supply of important resource basic to human life such as water and abate the negative impacts of climate change, urbanization, as well as natural or man-induced disasters, through the identification of policies and programs to address these threats and the promotion of resource conservation practices.
It recognizes that the Philippines has a vast supply of water from rivers, lakes, reservoirs, groundwater, and rainfall.
But the supply and access to these water sources are threatened by : 1) pollution caused by human activities; 2) intense abstraction due to urbanization; inefficient use; 3) natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes that damage man-made structures such as dams and reservoirs, and fill waterways with debris and contaminants; and 4) man-made disasters such as terrorism and war which could deprive access to water; and climate change.
The country has been experiencing water shortage due to an inefficient distribution system as well as the result of dry spells brought about by the El Niño weather phenomenon as part of global climate change.
Arroyo said scarcity of water supply is a global concern with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) projecting in 2015 that 750 million people in the next 10 years will live without reliable or safe drinking water.
She pointed out that the water shortage that happened this year, where the East Service Zone of Metro Manila, currently served by Manila Water Company, Inc., experienced interruptions in water supply due to high demand and insufficient supply from the Angat Dam ignited the call for a water security plan to identify sustainable water sources to address the rising demand for water for household consumption.
Arroyo said that such water security masterplan to be formulated by the MWSS, MWSS-Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Manila Water Company, Inc. (MWCI), and Maynila Water Services, Inc. (MWSI) should include management protocols in the event of another water shortage and procedures to protect water sources during natural or man-induced disasters.
During the March 18, 2019 meeting of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, the MWSS reported the following projects to ensure a steady supply of water for Metro Manila households and its suburbs : 1) construction of additional dams like the Kaliwa, Laiban, and Kanan dams; 2) rehabilitation of the Wawa Dam; 3) utilization of water from the hydropower plant in Angat-Norzaragay; and 4) construction of tunnels and aqueducts to transport water from Ipo Dam to the La Mesa Reservoir.
The implementation of these infrastructure projects and the formulation of a water security masterplan is necessary to safeguard sustainable access to water, address projected water supply demand, and protect the country’s water resources from the negative effects of natural and man-made or man-induced disaster that could endanger water quality and quantity as well as water supply infrastructure, the resolution states