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Water crisis prompts Arroyo to convene oversight panel

The water elevation at the Angat Dam in Bulacan plunged below its critical level of 160 meters over the weekend, raising the likelihood of more water service interruptions in Metro Manila.

The dam’s level fell to 159.43 meters against Saturday’s level of 159.78 meters, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Sunday.

On Saturday, the National Water Resources Board reduced the water allocation for the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and its two water concessionaires—the Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc.—by four cubic meters per second from 40 CMS to 36 CMS.

“The additional four CMS reduction translates to a deficiency of 350 million liters per day equivalent to the daily water consumption of almost 700,000 people,” Manila Water said.

“Manila Water is therefore constrained to [put into] effect a new scheme or rotational water service interruptions for the entire east zone at an average of 12 to 17 hours per day,” it added.

Maynilad said starting June 22, it was “constrained to implement new rotational water service interruptions” through its concession area in Metro Manila’s west zone.

With barely a week before the end of the 17th Congress, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was set to conduct an oversight committee hearing to look into the country’s water crisis.

She summoned officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, National Water Resources Board, Local Water Utility Administration; National Irrigation Authority; National Economic and Development Authority; departments of Agriculture, Budget and Management, Environment and Natural Resources, Public Works and Highways, and the two private water concessionaires to appear before the oversight panel on June 25, Tuesday, at 10 a.m.

Apart from the discussion on measures to address water shortage, the speaker would also take up the creation of a Department of Water.

In March, the House of Representatives launched an oversight hearing on the water crisis affecting the east zone of Metro Manila.

Earlier, LWUA acting administrator Jeci Lapus urged Congress to help find long-term solutions for Angat Dam’s dwindling supply of water.

Arroyo said the 17th Congress could pass on to the next Congress the proposal for creating a Department of Water.

READ: Explain water cutoff, suppliers told

READ: Double whammy: Water, power lack

READ: Water firms resort to service cuts

READ: Angat nears critical mark

Topics: Angat Dam , water service interruptions , Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration , National Water Resources Board
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