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NIA lays out El Niño water plans; Rain, floods paralyze traffic in NCR

WATER CONTRAST. Long lines form on the southbound lane of the South Luzon Expressway as flooding in Bicutan, Paranaque stalled traffic on Thursday. Gutter-deep waters also plague a motorcycle rider in Manila after day-long rains– while ironically the water levels of Angat Dam, Ipo Dam, and Bustos Dam, all in the province of Bulacan, continue to drop. Joan Bondoc, Danny Pata, and Norman Cruz

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said Thursday it is prepared for the El Niño phenomenon as its field office nationwide has action plans that include water delivery schedules, alternate wetting and drying technology, crop diversification, and the use of early maturing drought-resistant crop varieties.

Meanwhile, day-long rains owing to the southwest monsoon led to flooding —and huge traffic jams—in portions of Metro Manila on Thursday.

The operator of the Skyway System apologized to motorists affected by the heavy flooding at the ground level of the expressway in Bicutan, Paranaque City, resulting in heavy traffic.

A low-pressure area will bring more rain showers across the country until the weekend, according to the state weather bureau PAGASA.

By working together with other government agencies, NIA said, it remains confident that the country can overcome all the challenges that the El Niño phenomenon brings.

The NIA is also conducting preliminary activities, such as weekly monitoring of field conditions, including dam hydrological data and discharge; information, education, and communication activities; and adjustments to the planting calendar during the wet season and early planting during the dry season.

On the Bicutan flooding, Skyway O&M Corp. said in a statement: “Historically, this portion of the Skyway System has remained flood-free and we have consistently strived to maintain a smooth and reliable traffic flow for our valued users.”

But over the past few months, the company said the rise in floodwaters at the carriageway has become evident.

“These incidents were primarily due to a drainage system problem outside of the Skyway system, which we traced in February this year, due to ongoing construction works in the area that are unrelated to our operations and outside our direct control,” the Skyway operator said.

“Since then we have been in constant coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and other government and private sector stakeholders in the area to find a way to address the issue together,” it added.

Ipo Dam

The company said it lent some of its equipment to help drain floodwater faster and deployed maintenance teams to siphon off water from the carriageway.

Meanwhile, Manila Water bared its plans to mitigate the effects of El Niño in the Non-East Zone.

The company said each of its business units has developed its own El Niño mitigation plan tailored to its sources, operational needs and obligations, and customer demand based on historical El Niño effects on their respective service areas.

The core of each plan, however, centers on the implementation, development, and energization of alternative water sources.

Other capital expenditure programs which would ensure the operation of standby deep wells, management of pressure and adjustment of variable frequency drive as needed, regular facilities maintenance work for pumps, tanks, and generator sets, and operation of line boosters are also being put in place.

The company said it has also been in close coordination with bulk water suppliers for possible supply procurement in worst-case scenarios.

Laguna Water, one of Manila Water’s largest business units in the Non-East Zone, has started stocking up critical spare parts such as pump, motor, and electrical spares and has been working since January 2023 to reduce its non-revenue water (NRW) from 30 percent to 20 percent. As of May, the business unit’s NRW is at 28 percent.

Meanwhile, Boracay Water, a Manila Water subsidiary tapped to provide water supply and wastewater services for Boracay Island, will install a surface water level indicator at the Nabaoy River, the lone water source of Boracay Island, for the regular monitoring of the river’s condition and water elevation.

Boracay Water is also set to implement pipe replacement projects in Barangays Yapak and Balabag in the next few months, designed to recover 1.8MLD of non-revenue water by November.

Manila Water said it is preparing for an assumed 10 percent water supply reduction during the El Niño period which is projected to last until early 2024.

Angat Dam

Also on Thursday, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda urged Metro Manila residents to save on water consumption as levels in Angat Dam have continued to fall beyond its minimum operating level.

She cited the need for urgent action from consumers as levels are trending towards a lower level for the foreseeable future due to the dry spells caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

She also said residents must take advantage of the heavy downpour that affects many parts of the Metro during the afternoon and evening.

“We can innovate many ways to collect rainwater and use that for watering our plants or flushing down our toilets,” she said.

While citizens have been asked to conserve water, she noted that local government units must assure clear and constant communication with water suppliers to manage demand.

Bustos Dam

She also called on appropriate government agencies to lead the way in helping minimize the impact of the water situation.

“We should also find ways to incentivize those who have heeded our call to conserve water so that many will follow their steps in helping our environment,” Legarda added.

Senator Ramon Revella Jr., chairman of the Senate Committee on public works, urged the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to act on the flooding of roads in Metro Manila immediately.

He cited the need to identify factors contributing to the quick and sudden flooding of areas in Metro Manila, some of which were not easily flooded before.

In March, Public Works Secretary Manuel Bonoan had assured Revilla’s panel that they were prepared for the coming rains.

He specifically said their pumping stations in the National Capital Region (NCR) have “100 percent” capacity to handle the rainy season.

Despite that assurance, different parts of Metro Manila are again flooded, causing heavy traffic, Revilla said.

The senator wanted to know what the DPWH is doing with the 13,224 flood control structures they prepared nationwide.

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Credit belongs to : www.manilastandard.net

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