By Madelaine B. Miraflor

Ayala-led Manila Water Company, Inc. (MWC) yesterday sounded the alarm over the possibility of a water crisis throughout Metro Manila — not just within the East Zone concession — as Angat Dam is about to hit its critical level.

MWC logo - MWC warns of new supply shortage

MWC logo (Photo courtesy of www.manilawater.com/)

Manila Water President and Chief Executive Officer Ferdinand Dela Cruz said on Monday that the “only critical concern” the company is now watching closely is “the sharper decline of Angat Dam (water level).”

“We are working very closely with the government about this,” Dela Cruz said. “[A supply disruption from Angat] will not just affect us but the entire Metro Manila.”

Angat Dam currently supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s water needs, releasing about 4 million liters of water per day (mld). Of this, Manila Water gets an allocation of 1,600 mld, while West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, Inc. is allowed to get the rest or about 2,400 mld.

As of Monday, Angat Dam’s water level was at 182.93 meters, which is way below its spilling level of 212 meters.

“We are already alarmed by the level of Angat Dam,” Dela Cruz said. “The critical level of 180 meters is already coming and we are in coordination with the government about this.”

Dela Cruz said that National Water Resources Board (NWRB) is now on top of the “balancing” efforts when it comes to water allocation that should go to Metro Manila.

“We are raising the issue of Angat Dam to make sure that Metro Manila’s allocation of 4,000 mld, of which 1,600 mld is ours, continues. And we’ve already had collaborative discussion with NWRB and they have been very responsive,” he further said.

Right now, NWRB is now studying the possibility of reducing Angat Dam’s water allocation that goes to irrigation in order to save it for household consumption.

For her part, Jennifer Rufo, Maynilad’s head for stakeholders communications office, agreed with Dela Cruz, saying that as long as Maynilad’s raw water allocation from Angat Dam remains the same, there’s no need to worry about water supply interruption in the West Zone concession.

“Our raw water allocation from Angat Dam remains the same, so water supply for the West Zone is still enough to sustain customer needs. In case there will be a reduction, we are preparing our facilities for possible pressure management,” Rufo said in a text message.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) recently appealed to consumers to conserve water as the country continues to experience mild El Niño.

Last month, Manila Water partly blamed the phenomenon for its water shortage supply issue as most parts of the country continues to receive below normal rainfall.

La Mesa Dam, where Manila Water gets its reserve water, is still currently 12 meters short of its spilling level, being at 68.5 meters versus the normal level of 80.15 meters.

The dam’s depletion forced Manila Water to look for other ways to pump its supply, which includes the signing a cross-border water deal with Maynilad, and the activation of more deep wells. The firm also had to work double time to finish the phase one of its Cardona Water Treatment Plant, which recently started contributing additional 50 mld to the east zone concession.

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