Senator to MWSS: Act on water supply cuts
Sen. Grace Poe on Sunday called on the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to “be proactive” instead of being the “bearer of bad news for consumers” of Maynilad Water Services Inc. who may face up to nine hours of service interruptions starting this week.Poe, the Senate committee on public services chair, said the MWSS should “not take this matter sitting down as these recurring service cuts [would] affect over half a million consumers.”
“The water interruptions have become more frequent, lasting for longer hours and affecting more people. This is unacceptable,” she said in a statement.
Last week, MWSS Division Manager Patrick Dizon said that around 600,000 customers of Maynilad—which services the west concession zone in Metro Manila—may end up without water for up to nine hours starting Wednesday, as Angat Dam’s water drops below the minimum operating level of 180 meters.
Poe said the MWSS should review the compliance of Maynilad and other water concessionaires with their obligation to provide efficient services as stated under their congressional franchises.
According to her, the water utilities should have looked for other ways to ensure a steady supply of water instead of blaming Angat Dam’s dipping water level for the shortage.
Directive to the publicMeanwhile the DENR’s Water Resources Management Office (WRMO) issued on Sunday a conservation directive to residents in Metro Manila and the provinces of Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan who rely on Angat Dam for their water needs. The advisory stands in contrast to WRMO’s mandate, under Executive Order No. 22 which established the agency, to “ensure the availability and sustainable management of the country’s water resources.” The WRMO directed barangay officials and condominium and subdivision managers to advise households to conserve water by reducing water-heavy activities like watering the lawn and washing vehicles.
Residents were also encouraged to collect rainwater and reuse dishwashing and laundry water for watering plants.
“As we prepare for even drier conditions due to El Niño, it is more than ever important to conserve water in order to prevent massive water interruptions later this year,” the WRMO advised the public.Metro Manila local government units, on the other hand, were told to speed up the approval of pipe repairs to be conducted by water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad.
The WRMO said it would also conduct spot inspections of office buildings for “unwarranted use of water, leaks and faulty bathroom fixtures” on top of a monthly review of all government facilities’ water bills.
Farmers’ concernsThe announcement about Angat Dam’s decreasing water levels has coincided with the onset of the El Niño phenomenon which is expected to strengthen by the last quarter of the year.
The double whammy has alarmed farmers who have expressed concern about the effects of the expected water shortage on their crops.
Shortage alarms farmers
On Sunday, members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) called on the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) to inform them about its strategy for dealing with the weather phenomenon.“We want to know NIA’s concrete plans on how to help farmers cope with El Niño and how to ensure the availability of rice and food crops despite extreme weather events,” KMP chair Danilo Ramos said. He added that they have sought a dialogue with the agency to discuss joint measures to help farmers cope with the expected rainfall shortage and its possible effects on their crops.
On Saturday an official of the National Economic and Development Authority, however, assured the public that the government was already taking steps to cushion the adverse effects of El Niño.
“We expect the real brunt of El Niño to happen by the beginning of next year, but our preparations for that should already be starting now,” Neda Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said in a press forum on Saturday.
“On the impact for next year, that really depends on how we’re able to prepare this year,” she added.