THE National Water Resources Board (NWRB) said it has reduced its June Angat Dam water allocation for the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to 46 cubic meters per second (CMS) from 48 CMS in May due to the continuing effects of El Niño.
In a statement, the agency also noted that it has suspended its allocation for irrigation. It did not say how long the freeze will take place.
As of 6 a.m. on June 13, Angat’s water level was at 164.02 meters, which is about 16 meters below its minimum operating level of 180 meters.
“Intermittent rains during the past few days have not significantly improved the water elevation in Angat Dam, which continues to decline daily. This is mainly due to the reduced amount of rainfall due to the weak El Niño persisting in the country,” it said.
The PAGASA weather service (the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration) said that the onset of the rainy season is projected for the second or third week of June. Its forecast indicates the possibility of above-average rainfall in Luzon, including Bulacan where Angat Dam is located, which is expected to improve the dam’s water elevation.
The Angat Technical Working Group together with its concessionaires and the National Power Corp. (Napocor) are working to ensure that the 46 CMS is maintained. Other measures include tapping deep wells and cloud seeding operations.
“Based on the current situation and climate projections, there will be sufficient water supply until the onset of the rainy season. Close monitoring of the water level in Angat Dam is being done in case there will be significant deviations from the rainfall projections to minimize the impacts of the issue on water supply as well as water quality,” it said.
A Metro Manila water concession holder, Manila Water Co., Inc., said it will be required to constantly adjust operations, and raised the possibility of service interruptions.
“Given the current situation and year-end outlook, concessionaires need to constantly adjust operations which may result in service interruptions. We, however, continue to implement our rotational water supply scheme because of the supply deficit from the water shortage in March. Our situation in the east zone remains unstable and volatile,” Nestor Jeric T. Sevilla Jr., group head for corporate strategic affairs at Manila Water, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail.
The opening of the low-level outlet of Angat Dam, which has been used sparingly in the past, has also imposed uncertainties on water quality.
“There could be higher turbidity or raw water quality issues and we may have to reduce production if our plants cannot handle the poor water quality,” he said.
Maynilad Water Services, Inc. Spokesperson Jennifer C. Rufo, said that the company has been stocking up on treatment chemicals. The company has also been implementing water interruptions during off-peak hours, between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
“Since (the allocation is) reduced, we have to manage supply in our network,” Ms. Rufo said in a phone interview.
She added, “We might implement rotational interruption para mapag-kasya ’yung [to properly allocate] supply… Baka mangyari hindi na sya [It might not be during] off-peak.” — Vincent Mariel P. Galang