Metro, nearby provinces told to brace for El Niño in next few months
MANILA, Philippines — Residents of Metro Manila and nearby provinces have been warned to brace for the effects of El Niño, which, the weather bureau said, would develop into a “strong” occurrence with effects to be felt in full in the next few months.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), all climate prediction models from major international agencies suggest that a strong El Niño is now in progress in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
PAGASA senior weather specialist Analisa Solis said during an interagency briefing on Tuesday, that the models have suggested an El Niño with a 90 percent chance of lasting until the first quarter of 2016 and a 70 percent chance of prevailing until the second quarter.
Earlier, PAGASA and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the prevailing phenomenon could be the strongest recorded occurrence of El Niño, which usually brought in a prolonged dry spell and stronger storms.
“PAGASA’s latest six-month climate outlook, based on available data today, is that by February next year, most of (Southern Luzon and the Visayas, and western parts of Mindanao) will be experiencing moderate drought,” Solis said.
“At the same time, there would have been severe drought conditions in the National Capital Region and Biliran province,” she added.
At the Angat Dam — which supplies irrigation water to farms in Bulacan and Pampanga as well as raw water that is processed for domestic use in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces — the water level was pegged at 186.24 meters above sea level (masl).
This is at least six meters above the minimum operating water level of 180 masl for Angat, but still way below the target 212 masl, which authorities hope would be reached by the end of this year.
Considering the situation in Angat and the current climate outlook from PAGASA, the National Water Resources Board has cut the allocation of water released from the dam to a flow rate of 38 cubic meters per second from 41 cms previously.
This “may result in eventual water pressure reduction, scheduling and interruption of services to consumers,” NWRB executive director Sevillo D. David Jr. said. “(We assure) the public that ample time will be provided every day to store sufficient water in their households and that information will be given before the concessionaires proceed with any mitigating measure.”
According to Maynilad Water Services Inc., such measures — if needed — are expected to affect some 230,000 households or 18 percent of Maynilad customers.
Ronald Padua, head of the Maynilad’s water supply operations unit, said parts of Caloocan City, Quezon City, Valenzuela, Parañaque City and Cavite would likely be affected by water supply reduction.
The Manila Water Company Inc. said some 125,500 households or nine percent of the company’s customer base might be affected.
According to Dittie Galang, Manila Water communications manager, the households to be affected are located in elevated areas, such as parts of Rodriguez in Rizal and parts of the cities of Quezon, Antipolo, Taguig, and Pasig.
Both water service companies said these were “still only scenarios,” although they could happen next week “if it does not rain the entire week this week.”
Customers of Manila Water and Maynilad are advised to constantly check with the companies for advisories and detailed updates.
“We need to manage the water level in Angat Dam so we can sustain adequate water for the public until this El Niño phenomenon ends next year,” said David of the NWRB.
“The public is also encouraged to take advantage of the rainy season and save water through rainwater harvesting and storage,” he added. “A drum or two of untreated water can be used for various purposes such as car washing, toilet flushing and watering of plants.” SFM
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