MALACAÑANG said Monday that relief from the Metro Manila water crisis may have to wait for the onset of the rains, though cloud-seeding was also an option, with the Department of Agriculture saying it ordered seeding in areas of Central Luzon that could help fill the capital’s reservoirs.
“Ang problema yata eh ang tubig eh manggagaling sa langit; walang ulan, ‘pag walang ulan papa’no, baka mag-aantay tayo,” (The problem is that the water has to come from the sky, and if there is no rain we may have no choice but to wait) the President’s spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said in a briefing.
Separately, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Monday that he instructed the department’s regional offices to conduct cloud seeding in Bulacan, Pampanga and Rizal in response to El Niño.
“Operations Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan of the Department of Agriculture (DA) [has been instructed] to order the DA Regional Offices to implement cloud seeding operations,” Mr. Piñol said in a social media post while visiting Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya.
“Usec. Cayanan was also directed to coordinate with the Philippine Air Force for the cloud-seeding operations over Bulacan, Pampanga, and Rizal (to increase the sources of water for) La Mesa Dam,” Mr. Piñol said.
“As early as last year, funds were transferred to the Regional Offices and the Philippine Air Force for cloud-seeding operations in preparation for El Niño,” Mr. Piñol added.
The DA estimates crop damage from El Niño at P464.27 million, affecting 13,679 hectares.
“We are always concerned with respect to any problem affecting the welfare of the people,” Mr. Panelo said in the briefing on Monday when asked to comment on the water crisis in Metro Manila.
He said cloud seeding is a “possibility, but added he is not aware if the President has officially ordered it.
“Kung meron man, hindi ko alam. But, I am sure meron nang ginawa (If any instructions were issued, I am not aware of them. But I am sure something has been done)“ he said. “I have to ask the President exactly what were the instructions.”
In a social media post on March 8, the Manila Water Company Inc. said: “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience brought by unexpected water service interruption experienced by our customers across the East Zone.”
The company said it is implementing operational adjustments that may result in low pressure to no water in certain areas “to address the continued decline in the water level at La Mesa Dam due to minimal inflows.”
“We urge our customers to use water more responsibly and wisely in light of the weak El Niño we are currently experiencing and the rapid decline of water levels at La Mesa Dam while Manila Water continues to employ augmentation plans to mitigate the impact of these realities,” it said further.
According to the Manila Water Service Update on Monday, March 11, at least 13 barangays in Mandaluyong City were affected (“no water”) from 11:00 a.m., with this status expected to last until 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday.
Affected barangays in Mandaluyong City were Addition Hills, Barangka Drive, Barangka Ibaba, Barangka Ilaya, Barangka Itaas, Buayang Bato, Highway Hills, Hulo, Malamig, Mauway, Plainview, Pleasant Hills, and Wack-Wack.
In Marikina City, barangays experienced “low pressure to no water” service interruptions on Monday were Concepcion Dos, Concepcion Uno, Fortune, Industrial Valley, Jesus dela Peña, Malanday, Marikina Heights, Nangka, Parang, San Roque, Santa Elena, Santo Niño, Tañong, and Tumana.
In Quezon City, at least 83 barangays experienced “low pressure to no water” service interruptions on Monday.
Several barangays in Antipolo, Rizal, according to Manila Water, were also affected, such as Mayamot, Cupang, Dalig, San Isidro, San Jose, San Luis, San Roque, and parts of Sta. Cruz, among others.
Other affected areas were Pasig, Taguig, the Rizal towns of Angono, Taytay and Binangonan, as well as Makati, Parañaque, and Pateros. — Arjay L. Balinbin, Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio