House body investigates Metro water crisis

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2019 07:37 AM | Updated as of Mar 21 2019 04:54 PM

Residents in Barangay Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City collect water from a tank as a supply shortage in the capital rages. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA -- A House of Representatives committee on Monday investigated the water crisis in Metro Manila that has brought misery to tens of thousands and disrupted businesses.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presided over the hearing. Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, whose committee convened the hearing, called the water shortage "gigantic and catastrophic."

The shortage affects a total of 1.2 million households in the east zone of Metro Manila, serviced by Ayala-led Manila Water. The west zone, under Maynilad Water Services Inc, is unaffected.

Among those invited as resource persons to the hearing are Health Secretary Francisco Duque, mayors of affected cities and officials of the water regulator, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.

In his presentation, MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco said Manila Water got a smaller allocation because it had "areas that are more vacant" when it started sourcing water from Angat Dam 21 years ago.

Velasco, during his presentation, enumerated short-term solutions for the shortage, including Maynilad’s transfer of 10 million liters per day of allocation to Manila Water through the La Mesa Portal and cross border sharing of water.

Manila Water is also expecting reprieve from the Cardona treatment plant in Rizal province, which will be able to process 100 million liters per day, as well as the reactivation of 101 standby deep wells.

Long term solutions include the opening of the Kaliwa Dam and the phase 2 for Laiban Dam, and the construction of tunnels and aqueducts, said Velasco.

Possible new water sources explored are the rehabilitation of Wawa Dam, the Bayabas Dam, the Sumag River Diversion Project and the utilization of water from Angat-Norzagaray, he said.

The Senate public services committee under Sen. Grace Poe, will open a separate hearing on the water crisis later this week.