By Ben Rosario
Two House of Representatives committees have asked the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and other state water agencies to put their heads together to formulate a water security masterplan for the country.
The Committees on Government Enterprises and Privatization and on Public Works and Highways adopted House Resolution No. 2548 seeking to address grave water shortage situations that were experienced during the summer months this year.
Authored by former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, HR 2548 called on MWSS, the National Water Resources Board, Local Water Utilities Authority and other government agencies in charge of water supply for the country to draw a water security masterplan to secure and sustain the supply of water for household, commercial, and industrial uses in Metro Manila that may be duplicated in other parts of the country.
HR 2548 declared that the water security plan should include management protocols in the event of another water shortage, and procedures to protect water during natural and man-induced disasters.
The two House panels also adopted HR No. 2547 strongly urging the MWSS and other concerned agencies to immediately form a technical working group (TWG) to enhance and execute mitigation strategies to avert the occurrence of water shortage in Metro Manila and provide sustainable supply of clean and safe water for its citizens now and in the future.
Arroyo also filed the bill after Metro Manila experienced water shortage last March.
The resolution states that the recent water shortage in Metro Manila serves as an eye-opener that warns government regulators to be proactive particularly in the dry season to address water service problems immediately.
It further states that mitigation strategies must be ready and implemented as necessary, namely:
1. Cloud seeding that is regularly resorted to in other countries like the United Arab Emirates to meet the increasing demand for water;
2. Cross-border sharing where one water service provider yields to another some volume allocation of water to augment supply to the latter’s customers when needed;
3. Recycling of used water as successfully done in Singapore, Japan, and Saudi Arabia to sustain their water requirements;
4. Arresting the causes/sources of non-revenue water (NRW) that waste an estimate of 178 million liters per day (MLD) every month by one water company alone and which could have been saved and utilized for the purposes of the consumers; and
5. Exploration of new water resources and technology to sustain water supply now and in the years ahead when population and urbanization growths will increase the demand for clean and safe water.
The resolution likewise states that the Department of Agriculture, through its Bureau of Soils and Water Management, must immediately perform cloud seeding to alleviate the current water shortage in Metro Manila.
It was revealed during the meeting, upon the inquiry of Fernando, that there was no existing umbrella organization or lead agency that would zero in on the problems and issues on the water.