HOUSE Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said on Friday that she is planning to cancel any further congressional meetings on the water situation and would rather focus on addressing Metro Manila’s water supply rather than discuss the idea that Manila Water Company, Inc.’s customers not be billed this month.
In an ambush interview with reporters on Friday, Ms. Macapagal Arroyo said she did not want to discuss reports that the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) plans to study not billing Manila Water’s customers for this March due to the water shortage.
“I don’t want to get into those proposals like that… I read from the papers that the regulator wants to do that (and) that’s their business. What we’d like to see is the water coming back to the tap,” she said.
The Speaker of the House said that she is planning to cancel hearings on the water shortage since they have already heard the the concerned stakeholders’ plans to address the problem.
“As far as the Congress Oversight [committee] is concerned, we want to see the solutions — immediate, short-term, and long-term — soon. So we already had our briefing and I think that’s it. I’m going to ask the Congress to terminate already the hearings because they’ve already heard what they have to hear for the immediate term,” Ms. Macapagal-Arroyo said.
Ms. Macapagal-Arroyo presided over a House meeting on the Metro Manila water supply problem this week. The water crisis first started when the La Mesa dam, the emergency water source for Manila Water, fell below the critical level of 68 meters above sea level (masl), leading to dry faucets in Manila Water’s concession area.
An immediate solution to the water crisis, she pointed out, is reopening the pipes between Manila Water and the other concessionaire, Maynilad Water Services, Inc., in order for the later to share its supply with Manila Water. Two pipes were opened last Thursday while 48 more are still being repaired in order to improve the flow of water from Maynilad to Manila Water.
Ms. Macapagal-Arroyo also noted that another immediate solution they are looking into is having more stationary water tanks to further address water interruptions in selected areas.
Manila Water also recently resumed its operation of the Cardona water treatment plant, which would have prevented the water shortage had it’s opening not been delayed for three months. Ms. Macapagal-Arroyo said that the resumption of operations is one immediate solution, adding “The Cardona plant is part of the solution of using the Laguna Lake as drinking water.”
Meanwhile, the China-funded Kaliwa Dam project is pegged by the House Speaker as the “longer term solution.” The dam, whose construction has not started, is planned to be operational in 2023. — Gillian M. Cortez