Water rationing looms in 2015

By Neil Jerome Morales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 13 2014 02:56 AM | Updated as of Aug 13 2014 10:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines - West zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services Inc., the country’s largest water distributor, is considering water rationing early next year should a moderate El Nino weather phenomenon hit the country in the fourth quarter of this year.

“The worst case is that we will have El Niño and we end the year below the 200 meters above sea level (MASL),” said Maynilad chief financial officer Randolph Estrellado.

He said some Maynilad customers might not be able to enjoy 24 hours of service, while others might experience a decline in water pressure given the rationing, which could last until summer.

“(The water supply) will depend on how bad El Niño will be,” he said.

Maynilad president and chief executive officer Victorico Vargas added that withdrawal of water from Angat Dam would have to be reduced to expand its usage.

Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of Maynilad’s parent firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp., said the target is for Angat Dam to end the year at 200 MASL, ideally 210 MASL, to ensure water supply in the coming year. However, El Niño will cut rainfall and typhoons in the coming months.

As of Aug. 11, water at Angat Dam was at 177 MASL. The National Water Resources Board is no longer releasing water for irrigation of rice farms.

But officials said there would be no repeat of the 2010 situation when water level at Angat Dam went down to 157 MASL, with around 322,000 Maynilad customers affected.

Repair projects

Vargas said non-revenue water, or water lost through leaks and theft, dropped to a record 31 percent in June from 35.3 percent in the first quarter this year, given Maynilad’s pipeline repair projects.

When MPIC took over Maynilad in 2007, non-revenue water stood at 68 percent.

“You may have to tap water treatment plant in Putatan, which is now 70 million liters per day but we should increase that capacity,” Pangilinan said, adding that Maynilad has built 28 water reservoirs in the city to help increase water supply.