By Ashley Erika O. Jose, Reporter

FILINVEST Development Corp. Utilities, Inc. (FDCUI) plans to build a desalination facility in Cebu City with a capacity of about 80 million liters per day (MLD) to meet the growing water demand in the area, a company official said.

“The issues that were raised earlier are all about Metro Manila, but let me take everyone outside Metro Manila. Metro Cebu area’s demand is 570 MLD and you know how much water can be supplied? 270 MLD. So, as we speak there is a shortage of 300 MLD,” Juan Eugenio L. Roxas, president and chief executive officer of FDCUI, said in a water forum hosted by Stratbase ADR Institute on Monday.

Mr. Roxas said FDCUI has existing desalination projects in Cebu City but described them as small. He said the city relies solely on Buhisan Dam. Deep wells, while prohibited in Cebu, cannot use groundwater as saltwater seeps through, making it unusable.

“We have no choice but to go into desalination,” he said. “Hopefully, we will get that off the ground. The most expensive water is no water at all. It is going to be blended with the existing supply of the water districts. So, it is not going to be that expensive.”

Meanwhile, Carlos Primo C. David, undersecretary for Integrated Environmental Science of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said the recent rains helped increased the water level of Angat Dam, which he said “will be good for five to seven days of usage in Metro Manila.”

“Theoretically, we need two months of that much rain falling,” Mr. David said, adding that although there is no crisis, “water level is quite precarious.”

He said that while Angat Dam reached its 180-meter minimum operating level, it still needs to rise further to 208 meters to ensure the stability of supply.

“We have around five months to be able to do so that we will have enough water for the following year. Therefore, water conservation still needs to be done,” he said.

As of 6:00 a.m. on Monday, Angat Dam hit 180 meters, up from 179.06 meters the day before.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said water service interruptions in areas served by Maynilad Water Services, Inc. are “suspended indefinitely.”

“We are assessing the inflows from the watershed,” said Patrick James B. Dizon, head of the MWSS Angat/Ipo operations management division, in a Viber message on Monday.

Maynilad earlier said that it could further suspend water interruptions amid the rising water level at the dams.

On Saturday, Maynilad announced the suspension of planned service interruptions in parts of Caloocan, Malabon, Manila, Valenzuela, Navotas, and Quezon City for July 15 to 16, saying improved supply from Ipo Dam mitigated the impact of reduced releases from Angat Dam.

Last week, the west zone water concessionaire announced that it would implement nine-hour daily water interruptions starting July 12, affecting about 591,000 customer accounts.

Meanwhile, Dittie L. Galang, head of corporation communications of Manila Water Co., Inc., said that the east zone water concessionaire is ready to tap deep wells which could yield about 100 MLD of water supply when needed.

“Currently, we are operating 49 wells with 60 MLD production. We can ramp up to 80DW with 100 MLD production when needed,” Ms. Galang said in a Viber message.

Over the weekend, Maynilad said it targets to spend P1 billion to reactivate deep wells spread across Metro Manila, which could provide around 32 MLD of additional supply in preparation for the impact of the El Niño phenomenon.