By Victor V. Saulon

METRO MANILA’s water regulator said it told the capital’s two water concessionaires to maximize the output of their water treatment plants in Muntinlupa and Rizal to mitigate the impact of the water service interruptions which started today.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said it told Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Co. to ramp up the output from their respective water treatment plants in Putatan, Muntinlupa and Cardona, Rizal.

The Cardona and Putatan plants draw water from Laguna de Bay to add to the main supply drawn from Angat Dam in Bulacan. Raw water from Laguna de Bay needs to be specially treated to be suitable for consumption.

In a text message, MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Lester N. Ty said both companies have also been required to undertake other measures to mitigate the impact of the water interruptions, which the companies said were to slow the rate of depletion from Angat.

“They should strictly adhere to the schedule of water interruptions as announced,” he said.

He said the concessionaires must also provide stand-by water tankers or static tanks; and explore cross-border supply if needed. He said they are also to activate stand-by deep wells and make sure there are water allocations to all consumers within 24 hours to allow them to store water.

“Rationing will start tomorrow (Thursday),” Randolph T. Estrellado, Maynilad chief operating officer, said in a text message, confirming published schedules.

“We expect to continue rationing until releases from Angat are increased to the normal level of 48 cms (cubic meters per second),” he said, adding that for the two concessionaires the level is 46 cms, plus 2 cms for the Bulacan bulk water system.

“The reduced releases have been in place since July in an effort to build up supply in Angat which needs to be filled up before the dry summer months,” he said.

“Ongoing and upcoming mitigating measures are the increased production of our second Putatan plant from 100 mld (million liters per day) to 150 mld, activation of around 50 mld of deep wells, 20 mld of mobile treatment plants, and around 100 mld from continuing reduction of NRW (non-revenue water),” he added.

Mr. Estrellado said that although Angat dam’s releases have been constant at 40 cms, the company has benefited from additional flows from Ipo Dam, also in Bulacan, during the rainy season.

“Unfortunately, the recent dry spell has seen both Angat and Ipo dam levels go down and we can no longer get additional flows from Ipo,” he said.

Meanwhile, Manila Water said it would begin implementing rotational water service interruption on the evening of Oct. 24, 2019, as it had been warning since last week while the water level at Angat dam continues to decline.

“This is necessary because we want to ensure that the still-limited raw water supply will last even beyond the summer of 2020 since Angat Dam may not reach its ideal 212-meter level by the end of 2019,” it said in a statement.

“As such, we enjoin our customers to use water wisely and responsibly. Please store water when available, and just at enough amount to serve your needs during hours of service interruption,” it added.