Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco has outlined a three-pronged program on water security and sustainability in Metro Manila and nearby serviced areas at a water forum hosted by the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex) at the New World Hotel over the weekend.
Stressing that 95.6 percent of Metro Manila’s water source comes from Angat dam that produces 4,000 million of liters per day, Velasco said the time is now to beef up water security under the Duterte administration.
Velasco focused on three areas: 1) interim and long-term water source projects to approximate at least 4,000 million of liters per day (MLD) in the next 10, 25 to 50 years; 2) disaster management especially with the possible occurrence of the Big One (7.2 earthquake) and anti-terrorist/saboteur measures on major water installations and facilities; and, 3) sustained environment program through sustainable watershed management projects.
Velasco keynoted the Finex Water Forum with the theme: Averting A Crisis Manila Water president Ferdinand M. de la Cruz, Maynilad president Ramoncito S. Fernandez, National Water Resources Board (NWRB) executive director Dr. Sevillo David Jr., Finex Foundation chairman George Chua, Finex’s Environment Committee chairman Rodrigo E. Franco, and the committee’s liaison trustee Romeo L. Bernardo.
Velasco noted that while the Angat Reservoir seems to be sufficient with its capacity to cover the water requirement of the current population including the near future, nonetheless, droughts brought by perennial El Niño and decreasing effective reservoir capacity due to the heavy siltation have sometimes given limits for water supply requirements of Metro Manila due to the irrigation requirements in Bulacan and Pampanga provinces.
“When one speaks of water sustainability, it means there is enough and available water not only for the present generation but also for future generations,” Velasco said.
On interim and long-term water source projects, the MWSS chief said that he will form shortly a new Technical Working Group comprising of MWSS, its three concessionaires—Manila Water, Maynilad and Luzon Water Development—and other entities to map out a new 10-year roadmap or development plan on new water sources that will zero in on: Laguna Lake (50 MLD); Putatan (150 MLD); Umiray and Sumag (350 MLD); Kaliwa (600 MLD), Laiban (1,800 MLD) and the possible reinstatement of Wawa Dam (350 MLD) into an active state after 24 years of dormancy.
The goal is to match Angat’s dam 4,000 MLD productions from 2022 to 2025, he said.
“Having these additional flagship projects approved, started and implemented in the next five years and completed in a span of 10 years would be enough water security and legacy of the duterte administration for the next generations of Filipinos and consumers in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, and Bulacan,” Velasco said.
So how secure are our major water installations and facilities notably those managed and operated by Maynilad, Manila Water, Bulacan Bulk Water as well as the Angat Dam?
“Because we all can’t take risks, we should always be prepared and ready when and where disaster strikes,” stressed Velasco in his speech.
He called for anti-terrorism program to beef up overall security measures to protect our water facilities and sanitation, which is among the high risk targets along with power, transportation, communication and ports.
“This goes with the territory and I am calling for enhanced anti-terrorism program through constant threat assessment, intelligence build up and additional security measures to prevent degradation of assets by the enemies of state, terrorist attacks or saboteurs,” said Velasco, a retired three-star police general and first commander of the Special Action Force.
On disaster preparedness and management, Velasco cited that both Manila Water and Maynilad have their respective existing Disaster Preparedness and Contingency Management Plans in the event a major disaster strikes like a 7.2 earthquake.
“In the business of water and water security, there must be no limit given the growing population, and, God forbid the occurrence of the Big One in our lifetime,” Velasco said who added that adequate and timely dike strengthening is being done by the national government and concessionaires on Angat dam.
On watershed protection and management, Velasco identified six major watersheds namely, Umiray, Angat, Ipo, La Mesa, Marikina and Laguna Lake watersheds, that need protection and are at present managed by different government agencies.
“Long-term, there must be an integrated watershed management plan as their environmental conditions directly impinge on the quality and amount of potable water supply to our constituents,” the MWSS chief said.
On June 25, Velasco announced the launch of the annual MWSS Million Tree Challenge aimed at planting one million trees a year over the next five years in the watershed areas.