Senate to probe water shortage in Metro Manila, nearby areas

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2019 03:35 PM | Updated as of Mar 13 2019 04:45 PM

Residents fall in line to fetch water from a fire hydrant made accessible by fire volunteers in Barangay Highway Hills in Mandaluyong City, March 11, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The Senate will investigate a water shortage that has brought misery to tens of thousands in Metro Manila and nearby areas, the lawmaker who will lead the inquiry said Wednesday.

Manila Water, which services the capital's east zone, has cut supply in several areas as the water level in La Mesa Dam, its emergency source, dropped due to lack of rain and high demand.

The Senate public services committee has scheduled a hearing on March 19, said its chairperson, Sen. Grace Poe. 

"What we are seeing now is not normal and something that our households and farmers do not deserve," Poe said. 

"Ipapatawag natin ang hearing na ito dahil ang sambayanang walang tubig, walang mainom, walang paligo ay uhaw na uhaw sa katotohahan," Poe said. 

(We will call for this hearing because citizens, who lack water for drinking and bathing, thirst for the truth.)

Some 52,000 households currently do not have water, Manila Water said, adding that this number does not include those experiencing low water pressure. 

Next week's hearing will gather government officials, heads of water concessionaires, regulators and other stakeholders to come up with immediate and long-term solutions to avert a water crisis, said Poe. 

"We also need to hear the current mitigating measures planned by the agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, given the importance of our agricultural sector to the economy," she added. 

Manila Water said it has an average deficit of 140 million liters a day because of increasing service connections. Since 2016, the concessionaire has relied on the buffer supply from La Mesa Dam to augment the deficit.

However, the dam recently reached its lowest level in 12 years. This means the company can no longer rely on their emergency supply of rain water collected from the La Mesa Watershed.