By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz and Madelaine Miraflor
About 99.9 percent of the seven million customers of Manila Water are getting at least eight hours of water every day, despite the limited water supply in Metro Manila and nearby areas.
Manila Water president and CEO Ferdinand Dela Cruz revealed Friday.
About 96-97 percent of Manila Water customers enjoy 16 hours of water supply every day, while 93-94 percent receive 24 hours of water each day, he added.
“Our average water availability is about 23.4 hours,” he added.
From 150 million liters per day (mld) of deficit last March, Manila Water has a deficit of almost 350 MLD since June 22 when the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) reduced its allocation for domestic use in Metro Manila from Angat Dam.
NWRB had earlier said it is maintaining the 36 cubic meters per second (cms) or around 3.1 billion liters per day allocation until end of July. This is for distribution by Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to its water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad.
As of Friday, Angat Dam’s water level remains below its 160-meter critical level. It further dipped to 159.69 meters from Thursday’s 159.93 meters.
Despite the dwindling level at Angat Dam, Manila Water said it has narrowed the supply gap with the increase in production in its Cardona Water Treatment Plant in Rizal, rehabilitation of existing deep wells and construction of new wells across the east zone concession, and efficient reduction of its systems loss or non-revenue water.
Dela Cruz said Manila Water started to accept new water service connection applications this week, after it was suspended last March due to water supply shortage.
There are roughly 2,000 pending applications, which are mostly for domestic use.
“This week, we started entertaining applications. Also, we are now in the process of clearing that backlog,” he said.
However, the new applications, Dela Cruz pointed out are “subject to evaluation of the supply situation in the area.”
“We ask our customers to sign a waiver because everyone is aware of the current water situation.
Three strong typhoons
Speaking to Manila Bulletin, Dela Cruz said as long as there ares no new water sources and there’s not enough rains filling the major dams, Metro Manila – home to more than 12 million people – will continue to suffer from rotational and even longer water interruption.
“We need three strong typhoons to fill Angat,” Dela Cruz said. That, or an Ondoy-like typhoon, which was one of the worst natural disasters to hit the Philippines in history.
To appeal to the heavens for rain, Dela Cruz said they have been reciting the “Oratio Imperata” (obligatory prayer for a grave need) daily at 8 a.m. at the Manila Water offices since March when water supply started to dwindle.
Metro Manila gets its water supply from the Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system. Angat Dam currently supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s water needs, releasing about 4 million liters of water per day.
Of this, Manila Water gets an allocation of 1,600 mld, while West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, Inc. is allowed to get the rest or about 2,400 mld.
Dela Cruz said that even if the situation in Angat Dam stabilizes in September as forecasted by government, the fact remains that that the metropolis is now at the mercy of how much rains will hit the areas where the aging dams are situated.
He blamed this to growing population, climate change, and the lack of new water sources.
Right now, the MWSS is fast-tracking the development of new water sources including the188 mld Sumag; 50 mld Rizal Wellfield; 80 mld Calawis Wawa; 100 mld Putatan 3; 250 mld Lower Ipo; 420 mld Wawa Dam; 250 mld East Bay; 350 mld Bayabas Dam; 550 mld Angat Norzagaray Phase 2; 250 mld East Bay; 750 mld Sierra Madre; and 1,800 mld Kanan River Phase 1.
But, all of these projects wouldn’t come on-line until the latter part of 2020 until 2027.
There is also 600 mld Kaliwa Dam project, whose implementation began in 2017 but is still pending due to environment-related issues. This is expected to be completed in 2023.
As for Manila Water, which is currently having its “worst year so far”, the company said it has nearly completed its recovery efforts from the supply deficit it experienced beginning in March 2019.
As of last week, the Cardona WTP was already producing up to 63 mld and the total yield from all operational deep wells has reached 58 mld.
Starting from a 150 mld of deficit last March to almost 350 mld in late June — when the NWRB reduced its allocation for domestic use in Metro Manila from Angat Dam — the company said it has successfully narrowed the supply gap with increased production in its Cardona Water Treatment (WTP) Plant in Rizal.
Then the company also rehabilitated existing deep wells and construction of new wells across the East Zone, while reducing its systems loss or Non-Revenue Water (NRW).
Moreover, from an average of 12 percent NRW from late last year to early this year, it has been reduced to 7.5 percent in June 2019.
“With an average production of 1,500 mld, the 4.5 percent improvement in NRW translated to almost 70 mld volume of water which we can use to help to bridge the deficit,” said Manila Water Chief Operating Officer Abelardo P. Basilio.
“While we have increased our efficiencies and the technical solutions we have put in place are ensuring we are able to distribute the still-limited supply as equitably as we can, we cannot rest and let our guard down. The water supply situation remains volatile and continue to change day to day as Angat, Ipo and La Mesa Dams remain in sub-ideal levels,” he added.