THE National Water Resources Board (NWRB) said that Metro Manila may experience a water shortage by April or May as Angat Dam levels continue to decline.

“The level of Angat Dam is already at 196 meters. The ideal level would be somewhere past 200 meters,” NWRB Executive Director Sevillo D. David, Jr. said in a radio-television interview.

“We are (trying to avoid) reaching 180 meters, which is the minimum operating level. But based on the projections and rainfall forecasts, we may reach this in April or May,” he said.

On Dec. 31, the water elevation at the dam was 202.80 meters, which was below the target level of 212 meters.

“Before the year ended, there was not much rainfall in the watershed. Right now, our water levels continue to decrease. We need to manage the release of water and take care of this supply these coming months, particularly in the summer,” he added.

Mr. David said that the NWRB is planning measures with water concessionaires to ready deep wells and treatment facilities to make up for the potential shortage.

“Maynilad has supply augmentation measures in place to prepare for the summer months given the low water level in Angat Dam. These include the construction of four modular treatment plants that will get raw water from rivers, reactivation of deep wells in various points of our concession area, management of pressure across the pipe network, and sustained leak repair and pipe replacement activities,” Maynilad Spokesperson Jennifer C. Rufo said in a Viber message.

“We are proactively working on solutions that will provide additional and augmentation sources of water especially during the coming summer months,” Manila Water Group Head of Corporate Communications Nestor Eric T. Sevilla said in a Viber message.

Manila Water is working on projects to augment supply, such as maximizing the capacity of the Cardona Water Treatment Plant, continuing the operation of deep wells, drawing water from the Marikina River, and tapping the Alat Dam, according to Mr. Sevilla.

The water concessionaires encouraged the public to conserve water to head off possible shortages.

“While we work with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and NWRB on providing the needed supply, we also encourage consumers to use water responsibly so we can maximize the available supply and avoid wastage,” Ms. Rufo said.

“We believe that the conservation of our water resources is a shared responsibility of the government and the concessionaires who closely coordinate with each other to provide the needed water supply, and the public to ensure that water distributed is used wisely and responsibly,” Mr. Sevilla added.

Meanwhile the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said that it is also working to secure water for farmers in anticipation of the shortage.

“We distributed 500 shallow tubewell pumps to the farmers in Bulacan and Pampanga last Jan. 28 in cooperation with MWSS and their concessionaires. These include subsidies for gasoline,” NIA Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya said in a Viber message.

“In the long term, we are fast tracking the construction of Bayabas Dam in Bulacan so that Angat Dam can best serve the water needs of Manila and that farmers in Bulacan and Pampanga will be assured of a 24/7 supply of water for irrigation purposes,” he added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson