'Artificial?' Manila Water denies manipulating water supply

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2019 08:23 PM

A boy collects water from a dripping faucet in Barangay Tejeros in Makati City on Thursday as residents adjust to the scheduled water interruption in the metro. Consumers on the east zone of Metro Manila serviced by water concessionaire Manila Water will now experience scheduled interruptions as the company rations water to its customers because of insufficient supply. ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Concessionaire Manila Water on Thursday denied allegations that it had been manipulating water supply to some parts of Metro Manila.

Dittie Galang, Manila Water's communications manager, explained that the concessionaire was not getting enough supply from Angat Dam, forcing the company to get water from its emergency source La Mesa Dam.

"That for me is very hard to imagine, how could that have been. Manila Water has been providing water service to the east zone of Metro Manila since 1997. And so 1997 up to recent month, we have shown a very good track record of improving the water service and even working on used water service for the east zone," she said.

"So going back to the question have we been manipulating the water supply, the simple answer is the demand has already outpaced the supply, which hasn't increased at all since 1997," she said.

This, after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the water crisis may be "artificial."

"Eh ‘di artificial lang iyon kung ganoon because if the source is puno and another concessionaire has puno also eh bakit naman iyong isa hindi. Iyon ang logic doon," Panelo told reporters in a press briefing.

(It's artificial if that's the case because if the source is full and another concessionaire has full supply also then why is the other one lacking. That's the logic behind it.)

But Galang said Manila Water has "nothing to gain but so much to lose" if it had manipulated the water supply.

"Right now our customers very dissatisfied to say the least, that’s being very modest about it. Our employees have been tirelessly working trying to find solutions, no matter how short term it may be to be able to alleviate the sufferings that our customers are currently experiencing," she said.

Manila Water said earlier said its consumers may experience 6 to 20 hours of service interruption daily until the rainy season sets in.

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Panelo said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had pointed out that Manila Water and Maynilad both source water from Angat Dam, which currently has a normal water level.

"'Yun din ang parang pino-point ni Secretary Delfin Lorenzana kasi lahat naman nanggagaling sa Angat Dam eh wala namang problema sa Angat Dam, puno naman so baka naman yung distribution lang ang nagkaproblema," he said. 

(Secretary Delfin Lorenzana pointed out that the water source is coming from Angat Dam, which has no problem, which is full, so maybe the problem is distribution.)

Galang explained that Manila Water's portal at Angat Dam also has its limitations.

"The maintaining level of portal should be 79.1 meters, if you increase that, the treatment plant of Maynilad may be compromised, they might not get enough water from portal if we raise the level any higher than 79.1 meters," she said.

Manila Water customers demand 1,750 million liters of water per day, when its share of water from Angat Dam is at 1,600 million liters per day (mld), Galang said. 

This is under a 60-40 sharing agreement with Maynilad Water Services in 1997, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System chief regulator Patrick Ty earlier said.