Marcos orders gov't agencies to conserve water as El Niño looms

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 09 2023 11:40 AM

Water gushing from a burst pipe floods the New Panaderos bridge near Kalentong Market in Mandaluyong City on April 12, 2023. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Water gushing from a burst pipe floods the New Panaderos bridge near Kalentong Market in Mandaluyong City on April 12, 2023. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has ordered all national government agencies and instrumentalities to strictly implement water conservation measures as part of efforts to prevent a water crisis as the El Niño phenomenon loomed.

Memorandum Circular No 22, signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on June 7, 2023, stated that the probability of El Niño happening in the country necessitates the need to conserve water in Metro Manila and "all other areas of the country experiencing water scarcity.”

Marcos also tasked the freshly-created Water Resources Management Office and its network of agencies with water-related functions to “take the lead in the implementation of a nationwide water conservation program, in coordination with other relevant government agencies.”

The order covers government agencies and offices, government-owned or controlled corporations, and state universities and colleges. 

Based on the order, they are also directed to determine and impose "specific, quantifiable and attainable water conservation measures that will result in 10 percent water volume reduction of their respective first quarter water consumption."

Meanwhile, the Local Water Utilities Administration (for water districts), National Water Resources Board (in the case of local government-run water service providers), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (in the case of its two concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water) are directed “to submit to the WRMO a monthly supply-demand projection highlighting if there is any likelihood of a deficit in water supply in the near future.”

“Government-run water service providers are hereby directed, and private water service providers are hereby encouraged to implement water conservation measures, such as but not limited to non-revenue water management and water pressure management,” the memorandum circular read.

State-run water service providers are also ordered, while private water service providers are encouraged, to fast-track their projects to reduce non-revenue water and upgrade water distribution pipes.

"Local government units are encouraged to process the requests of water service providers for waterworks within a reasonable period of time," it read.

Marcos also ordered the Water Resources Management Office to determine strategies on conserving water. 

It must also monitor the compliance of government agencies and instrumentalities regarding their water conservation measures and give quarterly updates to the Office of the President through the Office of the Executive Secretary. 

State weather bureau PAGASA last month raised the El Niño alert, as there was an 80 percent chance of its occurrence. 

This may persist until the first quarter of 2024. 

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