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MWSS option: Pump out water from Angat Dam

Water managers have no other option but to reduce the water allocation for Metro Manila beyond should there be no improvement in the water level in Angat Dam in Bulacan, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Monday.

Danilo Flores, hydrologist at the weather bureau, said PAGASA, the National Water Resources Board, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and its two water concessionaires—Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc.—tackled the dam’s low water supply at Monday’s meeting of the technical working group and came up with a recommendation to adjust the allocation for domestic use to lower than the current 36 cubic meters.

“It is better to have a reduction to enable [us] to stretch the number of days of our water use,” Flores told the Manila Standard.

Not reducing the allocation now would hurt consumers and lead to more and prolonged water service interruptions, he said.

“It is better that we have something to share among ourselves [than to have no water at all],” he said.

In an interview with GMA-7, MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco said the agency would have no option but to pump out water from Angat Dam should the elevation fall to 150 meters.

“We cannot fight nature,” he said.

“We will be forced to pump out water. That is why I have advised the [two water] concessionaires to really look for pumps [as early as possible]. We cannot just buy them if we are already in that situation,” he added.

As of 6 a.m. Monday, the dam’s water elevation went down to 159.09 meters, well below he 160-meter critical level.

“It is the rain that is really our hope,” Velasco said.

On Saturday, the NWRB cut Metro Manila’s water allocation to 36 cms from 40 cms.

Meanwhile, Raymond Ordinario, weather forecaster, said a low-pressure area inside the Philippine area of responsibility is brewing and could become a tropical depression to be named “Dodong” “within the next 48 hours.”

“If it develops, it could spawn rains, especially if it could enhance the southwest monsoon,” he told the Manila Standard.

Also on Monday, Senator Grace Poe criticized the MWSS for failing to carry out even short-term solutions to keep water service interruptions to a minimum until conditions normalize by the end of June.

In the first round of water interruptions, she noted that MWSS already promised that it would require the concessionaires to implement short-term solutions.

“We are now nearing the end of June and it seems like the water crisis took a turn for the worse,” said Poe, chairman of the Senate public service committee.

She also criticized the late notice of service interruptions being given to households.

“The faucets have run dry before we are told that there will be service interruptions,” she said in Filipino.

She said the reliance on rain was nothing but inexcusable shortsightedness.

Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said it was time “to clean up the mess” that is the country’s water supply system.

“Very soon after the 18th Congress convenes, we shall resume investigations on the water services and electricity services in Metro Manila and other parts of the country,” she said.

“Since the regulators have either been slow or inept or both at doing their job, we shall file a bill that will prescribe details of their regulatory powers,” she added.

Declaring the water concessionaires as public utilities has been long overdue, she said.

READ: Water firms resort to service cuts

READ: Water crisis prompts Arroyo to convene oversight panel

READ: Angat nears critical mark

Topics: Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration , Angat Dam , National Water Resources Board , Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System
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