THE National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said it is planning around a water shortage due to low levels at Angat Dam and has not factored in the government’s current dispute with Metro Manila’s two water providers.

Walang kinalaman (There’s no connection). It’s because of the Angat dam water level. We’re not reaching the expected water level by year-end. ‘Yun lang talaga (It’s just that), not the water concession issue,” NEDA Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro told reporters on the sidelines of the agency’s 84th anniversary celebration in Pasig.

She said the lo levels at Angat Dam, Metro Manila’s main water source, are due to the tail end effects of the last El Niño, which ended in August.

The capital’s two water suppliers, Manila Water Co., Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc., have recently been in the spotlight after President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered a contract review after Manila Water revealed that it won a P7.39 billion in an arbitration case against the government.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia has said that among the downside risks to economic growth in the coming year is a water shortage that could hit Metro Manila .

The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) has scaled down its growth target to 6.5%-7.5% for 2020 to 2022 from the initial estimate of 7-8% on the back of a sustained global economic slowdown fueled by the trade tensions between the US and China.

During the news conference that followed the program, Ms. Navarro said that the National Water Resources Board is set to meet Friday to discuss possible action in case the water supply proves inadequate.

“NEDA (is) the head of the El Niño task force… we are viewing this as a sort of a tail-end effect of the El Niño phenomenon. We will engage agencies in the water security and food security cluster to come up with interventions,” she said.

She said some measures could include curtailing supply for irrigation and households.

“As you know in the ranking of priority the first is the household sector, the potable water supply,” she added. — Luz Wendy T. Noble