Manila Water: Water shortage may last until August

Parts of Metro Manila and Rizal have been suffering through water interruptions since March 7. Thousands of households and numerous schools and hospitals were affected when the water supply was cut off with lacking prior notice. Instead of getting better, it looks like things are only about to get worse.

water shortage

According to Jimmy Isidro of the Mandaluyong Public Information Office, Manila Water told Mandaluyong City Mayor Carmelita Abalos that water shortage was likely to remain a problem until August. He explained to Inquirer:

Sabi nila magno-normalize daw yan by August pagka umulan na. Kasi ang main source lang sa eastern is La Mesa [Dam] and La Mesa is very critical right now. Kaya kami nagpi-pray kami ng ulan, sana umulan. Sana nga bumagyo para mapuno eh.

[They said it would normalize by August when it starts raining. Becuase the main source of eastern is La Mesa Dam and La Mesa is very critical right now. That is why we are praying for rain.  We hope it rains.  We hope a storm comes, in fact, so that it gets filled.]

However, many have been quick to question the slow response of Manila Water. Even if it’s true that the La Mesa Dam is at a critical level right now, the primary source of Manila Water is the Angat Dam and not La Mesa. PAGASA has already spoken up to certify that the Angat Dam is at normal levels and we are not experiencing a drought or El Nino as of yet.

Manila Water communications manager Dittie Galang explains that because the La Mesa Dam is drying up, the water from the Angat Dam is still unable to pass through their facility at La Mesa. She also asserts that they had given warnings of a possible crisis and informed people of water interruptions beforehand. Still, several citizens contest this claim and say that the warning came without a fixed schedule of interruption.

When they eventually did release a notice with the schedule of interruptions, many say it was not followed. Jimmy Isidro stated as well:

Sabi nila sa mga interviews, maglalabas sila ng bagong scheduling, sana naman yung schedule na yon tumama. Kasi mahirap eh, ang hirap talaga sa totoo lang. Yung release nila sa Facebook na 9 to 11 (a.m.) hindi na nasusunod eh, kaya meron talaga, yung limang barangay namin is totally zero eh.

[They said that they would release a new schedule, we hope that the schedules are correct.  Our situation is very tough. Their Facebook announcement said 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., but it did not happen. Five of our barangays have zero water.]

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Administrator Reynaldo Velasco questions how Manila Water allowed this to happen. According to Velasco, “I think Manila has always been drawing some water from La Mesa Dam. I told them that’s supposed to be reserve, but they have been drawing water. That’s why it’s now on its low.” There is also speculation that the shortage occured due to problems with pipe leaks.

Regardless of why it happened, people just want to see action being done now. Both long-term and short-term solutions are badly needed. Waiting for rain to fall in August doesn’t seem like a very viable answer.

How badly have you been affected by the water crisis? 

Sources: Inquirer, CNN, Rappler