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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

NCR faces water interruption

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MWSS: Deteriorating Laguna Lake water quality to affect services

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System yesterday raised the alert on a possible water interruption in various parts of Metro Manila and Cavite amid the decreasing water quality of Laguna Lake.

MWSS Division Manager Patrick Dizon said pollution, the presence of blue-green algae, and the high turbidity of the lake’s waters can affect water filtration systems, which in turn could result in water interruptions.

“Our problem is that our water quality is not good,” he said.

The Laguna Lake Development Authority earlier warned about the proliferation of blue-green algae, locally known as “liya,” which can complicate water filtration systems and cause fish kill in the lake.

MWSS sources nine percent of its water distributed in Metro Manila from Laguna Lake, which also supplies 80 percent of the milkfish and tilapia requirements of the National Capital Region.

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MWSS, Dizon said, is coordinating with experts from its Singaporean counterpart to address the water quality in Laguna Lake.

“We have coordinated with the Public Utilities Board of Singapore. They will arrive in Manila next week to assess the Maynilad plant in Putatan. We will seek guidance on what is the correct technology to be used based on the water quality,” he said.

Meanwhile, National Water Resources Board executive director Sevillo David Jr. said the Marcos administration has adopted a whole-of-government approach to ensure water security amid a looming El Niño phenomenon.

“We have various government agencies and sectors that are already preparing for a possible El Niño crisis this year,” he said.

El Niño increases the likelihood of below-normal rainfall conditions, which could cause dry spells and droughts in some areas.

A recent study showed more than half of the world’s largest lakes and reservoirs are dwindling and placing humanity’s future water security at risk, with climate change and unsustainable consumption the main culprits.

“Lakes are in trouble globally, and it has implications far and wide,” Balaji Rajagopalan, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author of the paper, which appeared in Science, told AFP.

“It really caught our attention that 25 percent of the world’s population is living in a lake basin that is on a declining trend,” he continued, meaning some two billion people are impacted by the findings.

Unlike rivers, which have tended to hog scientific attention, lakes aren’t well monitored, despite their critical importance for water security, said Rajagopalan.

To study the question systematically, the team, which included scientists from the United States, France, and Saudi Arabia, looked at Earth’s biggest 1,972 lakes and reservoirs, using observations from satellites from 1992-2020.

They focused on larger freshwater bodies because of the better accuracy of satellites at a larger scale, as well as their importance for humans and wildlife.

The results: 53 percent of lakes and reservoirs saw a decline in water storage, at a rate of approximately 22 gigatonnes a year.

Over the whole period studied, 603 cubic kilometers of water (145 cubic miles) was lost, 17 times the water in Lake Mead, the United States’ largest reservoir.

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