THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it is working on contingency measures for the dry season amid low water levels at Angat Dam, and is currently considering water use efficiency measures, cloud seeding, increasing reliance on treated water, and tapping deep wells.

The DENR and the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) are working on plans to ensure adequate supply for irrigation and domestic use in areas served by Angat, Metro Manila’s main water source, the department said.

“The NWRB will be in the forefront of monitoring the water level of the Angat Dam and putting contingency measures in place. While we are experiencing low water levels in the Angat Dam, the NWRB has already (moved) to solve the looming problem,” DENR Officer-in-Charge Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said in a statement.

Angat Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan supplies 97% of Metro Manila’s water requirements.

“The domestic water allocation of 48 cubic meters per second (cms) will be retained in March,” NWRB Executive Director Sevillo D. David, Jr. said. “Having a sufficient water supply helps control the spread of coronavirus.”

The DENR is also working with the National Irrigation Administration on the use of shallow tube wells to make irrigation more efficient.

“We are using what they call shallow tube wells to enable farmers to optimize water coming from creeks and canals,” Mr. David said.

Cloud seeding will be conducted around the Angat Dam, Bustos Dam, and La Mesa Dam, between March 7 and April 10.

“This endeavor is in coordination with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). We decided to conduct the cloud seeding operations this March due to the right weather conditions and after the amihan or northeast monsoon season,” Mr. David said.

Water concessionaires Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. are also working on ways to maximize the water available to them.

“We continue to improve our system readiness through the operation of our line boosters, network pressure management, maximization of our distribution reservoirs and regular maintenance of our facilities to prevent any downtime,” Manila Water said in a statement.

“While we work with the 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,” Maynilad added in a separate statement. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson