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Angat nears critical mark

Losing more than half a meter of water a day, Angat Dam in Bulacan could hit its critical level in just a day or two, a hydrologist for the state-run weather bureau said Thursday.

El Niño phenomenon
DOWN, DOWN, DOWN. The water level in Angat dam has been receding slowly but steadily, with Greenpeace volunteers saying the reservoir’s waters are decreasing at a rate of one centimeter per hour, or one meter in less than five days—an alarming rate that can continue as the current El Nino weather phenomenon intensifies. Greenpeace Photo
“The dam’s level is expected to further dip to 160 meters or below by Saturday dawn, and lower by Sunday dawn,” said Richard Orendain, hydrologist at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

As of 6 a.m. Thursday, the water level was 160.73 meters—less than a meter from its critical level of 160 meters.

The government traces the dam’s dwindling supply to the lack of rainfall due to a weak El Niño phenomenon, high demand for water from Metro Manila residents, and the failure of past administrations to build other dams.

Angat Dam provides 97 percent of Metro Manila’s supply of potable water.

The National Water Resources Board earlier announced that water allocation for domestic use was further reduced due to the low water level at Angat Dam.

The Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is preparing a contingency plan for a possible water shortage as the water level at Angat continues to drop.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and concurrent MMDRRMC chairman Danilo Lim said the supply from water concessionaires will be reduced in the coming weeks.

“The public, especially those located in vulnerable areas, must know what to expect with the water level of Angat Dam now at critical level,” said Lim during a special MMDRRMC meeting on Thursday.

The meeting was attended by officials of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and the two private water concessionaires, PAGASA and other concerned government agencies.

PAGASA said that while it had declared the start of the rainy season last week, the amount of rainfall is still not enough to boost the water level of the Angat Dam.

“According to PAGASA, there will be no widespread rains but only localized rain showers for the next eight days,” said Jojo Garcia, MMDA general manager.

To facilitate the delivery of water to areas that may be affected, Lim said trucks of Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company Inc. are still exempted from the number coding scheme.

“We have a standing order authorizing tankers bringing water to affected areas, with no restrictions on number coding,” Lim said.

Maynilad handles the west zone or parts of Metro Manila and Cavite while Manila Water handles the east zone or parts of eastern Metro Manila and Rizal.

Garcia also called on the public to learn and practice responsible use of water.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu also urged residents in the National Capital Region to conserve water, urging them to harvest and recycle rainwater.

“Angat Dam can still benefit from the rains falling outside its watershed if these are collected for non-essential uses such as for car washing and flushing of toilets,” he said.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources made the call amid insufficient rain over the 62,300-hectare Angat watershed reservation despite the rainfall in some parts of Metro Manila.

Water conservation measures could help lessen the demand for Angat Dam’s water in the millions of liters, Cimatu said.

On Thursday, some customers of Manila Electric Co. suffered rotating power outages at 3:25 p.m.

Meralco carried out manual load dropping in parts of Cavite such as General Trias, Naic, Maragondon, Tanza, Ternate, Trece Martirez, Bacoor and Imus, and Francisco in Tagaytay.

Grid operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines placed the Luzon grid on red alert from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday due to lack of generating capacity.

NGCP also placed the Luzon grid on yellow alert from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Four power plants with a combined capacity of 765 megawatts continued to be on forced outage due to technical problems while several plants including hydro-electric ones were operating at below capacity due to low water levels.

READ: Angat Dam level alarming—MWSS

READ: PAGASA warns of ‘Ondoy’-type rain despite El Niño

READ: Double whammy: Water, power lack

Topics: Angat Dam , Richard Orendain , Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration , El Niño phenomenon
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