Angat water level drops to lowest in history

By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2010 01:27 PM | Updated as of Jul 20 2010 10:50 AM

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE)  - Customers of Maynilad Water Services Inc. are bracing themselves for more bad news, with the water level in Angat dam reaching its lowest water level in history.

The water concessionaire, which supplies water and handles wastewater services in Metro Manila's west zone covering 17 cities and municipalities, said on Monday that the water level in Angat dam has receded to 157.56 meters above sea level, which is way below the critical level of 180 meters.

Maynilad said that based on its records, this is the lowest water level in history.

"Force of nature na ito. Hanggat hindi nag-nonormalize ang water supply situation at hindi tumataas ang tubig sa Angat, hindi namin kayang pabutihin ang water supply operations," said Cherubim Ocampo, spokesperson of Maynilad.

Maynilad  said that given its limited water supply from Angat Dam and the substantial 30% raw water reduction (about 720 million liters per day), it was forced  to implement rotating water schedules across the West Zone.

There are now 117 severely affected barangays in its concession area that have water supply for only 6 hours daily.

"We are closely monitoring the water supply status in these areas so we can make the necessary system adjustments and water rationing arrangements," said Maynilad in an earlier statement.

Maynilad said its counterpart in the east zone, Manila Water Co. has agreed to share water coming from the La Mesa Dam.

The two water utility companies, the  Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System and the National Water Resources Board will be announcing in the next few days, the final arrangements for the redistribution of water from La Mesa dam to affected Maynilad areas.
Maynilad sources nearly all of its raw water needs from Angat dam in Norzaragay, Bulacan.

"Para maibalik sa normal ang level ng Angat, mga dalawang bagyo pa ang kailangan, at sundan pa ito ng sunod-sunod na ulan," said Rodolfo German, plant manager of the Angat hydroelectric power plant.

A consortium between DMCI Holdings and Metro Pacific Investments Inc., Maynilad supplies water to and handles wastewater services in Caloocan, Las Piñas, Malabon, Manila, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Pasay, Parañaque, Valenzuela, parts of Quezon City, a part of Makati, Cavite City, and the municipalities of Rosario, Imus, Noveleta, Bacoor, and Kawit in Cavite.

"We would like to assure our customers that we are doing everything we can, and looking at every possible way to alleviate the effect of the 30% raw water supply reduction. We will be making representations with the concerned government agencies for additional water supply," the company said.

Maynilad said it will also appeal to the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Metro Manila Development Authority to assist it in repairing leaking pipes.

The water utility firm said that in the next few days, it will implement several measures to improve its delivery of water in affected areas.

These measures include the continuous sourcing of additional water tankers (even outside of Metro Manila); tapping public fire trucks to assist in its water tankering operations; implementing appropriate system adjustments depending on efficacy of rotating water schedules; temporarily sourcing additional treated water from the East Zone distribution network; and, installing 4 more static water tanks.

Maynilad has already deployed about 30 water tankers to service mainly some areas of Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Las Piñas and Parañaque.

Meanwhile, President Aquino is still awaiting information from government agencies to assess if Metro Manila is now under a water crisis.

Though aware of the complaints from Maynilad about water supply, the President said there are so many factors to consider before declaring a water crisis.

"There is supposed easing-off because of the rainy season," said the President.

Unfortunately, according to the President, Typhoon Basyang did not produce sufficient rainfall in the Angat Dam area, and there are so many rehabilitation works required to make Angat Dam work as expected.

The good news, he said, is that there is investor confidence right now, both foreign and local, wanting to do rehabilitation works on the dam at private sector's expense, although nothing is final.