Manila Water: 'Enough' water supply insufficient to fill high demand

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 11) — Amid days of water shortage and hundreds of thousands of Filipino families affected, the government agency in charge of water privatization assured Metro Manila residents there is enough water this summer season.

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Reynaldo Velasco is set to meet with eastern Metro Manila water provider, Manila Water, on Monday to find out why their customers have been experiencing over four days without water or low water pressure when there is enough water supply.

"The level of water in Angat (Dam) is still high. 96 percent of our water is coming from Angat. We still believe that the water from Angat is still enough to provide water for Metro Manila," he told CNN Philippines on Monday.

He said from Angat Dam, 1.6 million liters are allocated for Manila Water daily, while 2.4 million liters are given to western Metro Manila water provider Maynilad.

Velasco questioned why Manila Water is telling its customers the shortage is caused by low water supply in La Mesa Dam when the main source of water in Metro Manila should be the Angat Dam.

"I think Manila has always been drawing some water from La Mesa Dam. I told them that's supposed to be reserved, but they have been drawing water. That's why it's now on its low," he said.

The MWSS official claimed Manila Water may not be maximizing its allocated water supply from Angat Dam due to possible leaks in its piping system.

Manila Water said that since 2018, water demand has breached the 1.6 million liters allocated for its customers in eastern Metro Manila and Rizal, which is why it needs to tap La Mesa Dam's water supply.

"Our recorded weekly average production that we in the latter weeks of May last year was 1.641 million liters, it's much more than the 1.6 million liters we are getting, as such we needed to draw from La Mesa," Manila Water Communications Manager Dittie Galang said.

She added, "Since allocation from Angat is not sufficient anymore. We needed to do adjustments to be able to decrease slow down in La Mesa to tide though summer."

The normal reservoir water level of the dam is at 80.15 meters, but in January 2019 the dam only recorded a water level of 74 meters. It currently hovers around 69 meters, the lowest recorded in 12 years. Manila Water added the water consumption of its customers in 2019 would reach 1.7 million liters per day.

The country's weather bureau PAGASA warned that water interruptions for some parts will continue until the end of summer with the declining water level of La Mesa Dam. The water shortage also comes amid a weak El Niño, or the weather pattern during which rainfall is scarce.

Manila Water assured customers it is doing its best to fix the situation.

"We will try to bring back the experience that the customers had before this operational adjustment," Galang said.

Manila Water assured the public it is developing other sources of water, adding there are already projects on the line.

"We are currently developing a treatment plant that will draw water from Laguna Lake, this will service parts of Rizal and some of the supply that we will get there would also be brought to the central distribution system, meaning to the Metro Manila customers," Galang said.