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LGUs mobilized to save water

DENR to NCR chiefs, subdivisions: Collect rainwater, reuse wastewater

DRYING UP. A farmer looks at the withered corn plants at his farm in Malagasang, Imus, Cavite on Sunday as excessive heat hit the area. The weather bureau has warned the public that El Niño has shown signs of strengthening in the coming month, meaning some areas in the country could experience dry spells and drought, which will deplete local water resources. Danny Pata

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has advised village leaders and residents of Metro Manila to reduce activities such as watering lawns and washing cars to avert massive water interruptions in the coming months.

In its Bulletin No. 2, the DENR’s Water Resources Management Office (WRMO) told all barangay officials and condominium and subdivision managers to advise residents to conserve water.

The WRMO said residents should also be encouraged to promote rainwatercollection for non-potable use of water and to reuse laundry and dishwashing wastewater for watering plants.

The WRMO also directed all local government units in the National Capital Region to speed up the approval of pipe repairs of water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad.

“As we prepare for even drier conditions due to El Niño, it is, more than ever, important to conserve water in order to prevent massive water interruptions later this year,” the WRMO said.

Earlier, the WRMO issued its first bulletin containing the guidelines for water conservation measures by all government offices, through their building administrators.

In its second bulletin, the WRMO said its team will conduct spotinspections of office buildings for unwarranted use of water, leaks, and faulty bathroom fixtures. The team will ensure that WRMO Bulletin Nos. 1 and 2 are posted in offices accordingly.

The WRMO said that together with the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage System (MWSS), it will review the monthly water bills of all government facilities. Notices on excessive use of water will be issued, it added.

The office also advised the public to report leaks along streets to the MWSS (8929-5691, 8922-2969, 0967-3197144, or [email protected]), or to the water service providers Manila Water (1627) or Maynilad (1626).

WMRO’s Bulletin No. 2 was issued as the water level in Angat Dam, which supplies potable water to NCR and nearby provinces, continues to drop amid an impending El Niño dry spell.

As of July 8, 2023, the water level in Angat Dam was at 179.99 meters, which is below the 180-meter minimum operating level.

When below operating levels, the allocation for irrigation will be reduced and supply for NCR and the provinces of Rizal, Cavite, and Bulacan will be at the minimum volume. As such, residents could expect lower water pressures mainly during the night, and possible interruptions in certain areas serviced by MWSS.

Under Memorandum Circular 22, President Marcos directed the WRMO to monitor the progress of all agencies towards conserving water through the analysis of their monthly water bills, with the aim of reducing their consumption by 10 percent.

Created last April by virtue of Executive Order No. 22, WRMO is mandated to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water resources in the country.

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, said water interruptions which weregrowing in number and duration were unacceptable.

She said MWSS should take urgent action on the planned water service interruptions affecting almost 600,000 customers of MWSS starting July 12.

“MWSS should not take this matter sitting down as these recurring service cuts will affect over half a million consumers,” the chairperson of the Senate committee on public services said.

Maynilad said its customers may experience up to nine hours of nightly water service interruptions starting July 12 due to the decreasing water level of Angat Dam.

Poe said the MWSS should determine whether water utilities likeMaynilad are adhering to their obligations based on their franchise.

“MWSS should be proactive. It can’t be just the bearer of bad news to consumers of Maynilad’s water cuts,” she said.

Poe said Maynilad should have acted urgently in investing and building its supply capacities to avoid being caught flat-footed by increasing demand for potable water.

“They should not be depending only on the strength of rain. If there’s a water shortage, Angat Dam has always been blamed,” Poe said.

Poe said the MWSS and the water concessionaire must tell the public of its long-term and short-term solutions to the water shortage.

She pointed out that the authority granted to concessionaires to distribute water to consumers carries a serious obligation to deliver efficient service.

She stressed again the need to establish a Department of Water Resources to give focus on water use, management, and sources.

Valenzuela City Rep. Eric Martinez on Sunday urged the public, relevant authorities, and all stakeholders to take immediate action and prioritize preparedness for the impending water shortage crisis.

He cited the alarmingly low water level in Angat Dam which supplies over 90 percent of Metro Manila’s water needs, dipping below the minimum operating level of 180 meters.

This serves as a wake-up call for the urgent need for long-term solutions and comprehensive strategies to mitigate the impact of the El Niño episode and ensure the well-being of our communities, he said.

With no rains in sight and the El Niño scenario in effect, Metro Manila should prepare well, he said, adding that “every drop counts.”

“A waterless National Capital Region will hamper economic activity. Our actions should be clear, definitive, and quick,” he said.

He cited the necessity for a collective effort to conserve water, implement water-saving practices, and explore alternative sources to ensure sustainability.

“We must face this challenge head-on and strive for long-term solutions that go beyond temporary measures,” he said.

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