THE SUPPLY of water is expected to be tight until new sources are tapped starting 2024, with available water to be in high demand when economic activity picks up, according to testimony delivered at a Senate hearing.

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Legal Services Manager Augustine M. Vestil, Jr. said at a hearing of the Public Services committee that the water regulator projects supply of 96 megaliters per day in 2021 to 2022.

“This is small, but will help address water (demand) this year,” Mr. Vestil said at the hearing.

The committee’s chair, Senator Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares, said: “It’s almost guaranteed that we will have a water shortage once we return to some sort of semblance of normalcy.”

She warned of a supply deficit “once all the establishments open.”

Senator Maria Imelda Josefa R. Marcos pointed out from the MWSS presentation that supply will be flat until 2024, indicating no expectation of new water sources, which Mr. Vestil confirmed. He said water concessionaires are currently tapping deep wells to augment supply.

Mr. Vestil said average daily demand would indicate that water will be sufficient for Metro Manila. The capital’s sources are the Umiray River on the Aurora/Quezon provincial boundary, the Angat River, Manila Water Co. Inc.’s Cardona water treatment plant, and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.’s Putatan treatment plant in Muntinlupa.

He noted, are ongoing projects by Manila Water and Maynilad will improve supply, though their impact will be manifest in about three years.

Short-term solutions include mobile treatment plans that can go up within a year, Maynilad Chief Operating Officer Randolph T. Estrellado said.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan