By Victor V. Saulon
MAYNILAD Water Services, Inc. has downplayed the impact of El Niño on the water it supplies to Metro Manila’s west zone, saying the previous dry spell early in this decade left the company prepared for a similar incident.
“Since 2010 — the big El Niño, remember — we built a couple of reservoirs all across our network to prevent any service-affecting interruption to our customers in the event of a strong El Niño,” said Maynilad President and Chief Executive Officer Ramoncito S. Fernandez in a chance interview.
Aside from the reservoirs, the company has also invested in technology to monitor the water situation in its service area.
“We’ve invested in a central control room. You can see the entire network remotely in our head office and also in Arroceros (in Manila). Those are the major investments — automation, additional reservoirs,” he said.
Maynilad, the country’s largest water concessionaire in terms of customers, is an agent and contractor of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
Asked whether the supply in the additional reservoirs could last until June, when the weather bureau expects the “weak” El Niño to persist, Mr. Fernandez said: “I believe, as long as MWSS gets the 46 cmps (cubic-meter-per-second) from Angat it looks like we won’t be too worried).”
“There are still things to worry about but I don’t think it will be worse than 2010. That’s what we’re seeing,” he said.
MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco earlier called on consumers to save water and help cushion a water shortage as the weather phenomenon could result in the delayed onset of the rainy season.
The agency had said that as a rule, discharge for potable water supply becomes the priority during droughts, reducing water releases for irrigation and power generation.
Water for Metro Manila is primarily sourced from the Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system. Water from Angat passes through Ipo Dam where it is then released to La Mesa Dam.
According to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), La Mesa Dam has a 47-cubic-meter-per-second allocation of water from Angat Dam, higher than the 44 cms the government sets aside for La Mesa Dam during the dry season.
Maynilad serves certain portions of Manila, Quezon City and Makati. It also covers Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon in Metro Manila.
Outside the Philippine capital, it serves the cities of Cavite, Bacoor and Imus, and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario, all in Cavite province.
Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has 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.
By Victor V. Saulon