MANILA WATER Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. called on the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to maintain the minimum allocation to the concessionaires at 40 cubic meters per second (CMS) until the summer months to allow them to maintain their level of service to their customers.

Antonino T. Aquino, former president and current board director of Metro Manila east zone concessionaire Manila Water, said the initial allocation to the companies were 46 CMS from Angat Dam, but this had been cut to 40 CMS.

“As a minimum, dapat po sana ma-retain itong 40 CMS all the way until summer para po ang level of service po natin — alam po natin na kulang pa compared with kung nasa 46 CMS tayoay mapagpatuloy (As a minimum, we must retain this 40 CMS all the way until summer so that the level of service — which we know is still deficient compared with if we are at 46 CMS — will continue),” he said.

The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization now projects a 30% chance for El Niño recurring in December 2019-February 2020 and 25% for March-May 2020.

Angat Dam is Metro Manila’s main water source, but this year its ideal elevation is not being met, prompting a reduction in release to water concessionaires.

NWRB is the government entity that decides the release to both companies, which is balanced with what is allocated for hydroelectric power and agricultural irrigation.

“We can distribute only what we have,” said Ramoncito S. Fernandez, president and chief executive officer of west zone concessionaire Maynilad.

He said both concessionaires are dependent on water released to them by NWRB and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

Mr. Fernandez said Maynilad has used its permission from the MWSS as early as 2009 to build two water treatment plants in Putatan, Muntinlupa ahead of a third plant in Poblacion of the same town in January.

Mr. Aquino said it would also be important for stakeholders to come up with long-term water supply sources as it might take three more years before a new source comes online.

He was referring to the P12.2-billion Kaliwa Dam in Quezon province, which has been issued an environmental compliance certificate by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and a notice to proceed by the MWSS. The project will be built by China Energy Engineering Co. Ltd.

Talagang kulang po tayo [We are really deficient in supply],” he said.

Kung wala tayong water source, magkakaroon tayo ng problema. Unfortunately, it’s our customers who will suffer, pero wala po kaming magawa dahil sa depende lang po kami sa magkano ang inire-release sa amin ng NWRB. (If we don’t have water source, we will have a problem. Unfortunately, it’s our customers who will suffer, but we can’t do anything because we are dependent on how much the NWRB gives us).”

Sought for comment, NWRB Executive Director Sevillo D. David, Jr. said in a text message: “Based on the current elevation and climate projections from PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), allocation of 40 CMS can be maintained up to summer of next year. We just have to closely monitor actual rainfall if it is consistent with climate projections.” — Victor V. Saulon