By Ashley Erika O. Jose, Reporter

THE PHILIPPINES’ state weather bureau on Tuesday said El Niño would likely develop in the next three months and might last until the first quarter of next year.

“Recent conditions and model forecasts indicate that El Niño may emerge in the coming season (June-July-August) at 80% probability and may persist until the first quarter of 2024,” the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said on its website.

It said El Niño would likely result in below-normal rainfall conditions, a dry spell and drought in some parts of the country.

An El Niño alert is issued when there is a 70% chance for it to happen within the year, while an El Niño watch is issued when there is at least a 55% chance for it to happen in the next six months.

Leonor C. Cleofas, administrator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said water supply would be sufficient.

“We have mitigating measures,” she said by telephone. “PAGASA has said that rains would still come. We still have time for rains to come and refill the dams.”

As of 6 a.m. on Tuesday, the water level in Angat Dam had declined to 194.88 meters from 195.08 meters on Monday.

Angat Dam supplies about 90% of the water needs of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. The dam has a minimum operating level of 180 meters and a normal high-water level of 212 meters. The latter is considered the ideal level, with adequate safety margins during the dry months.

“All concerned government agencies and the general public are encouraged to keep on monitoring and take precautionary measures against the impending impacts of El Niño,” PAGASA said.

Last week, both Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Co., Inc. said they were fast-tracking their supply augmentation measures in preparation for El Niño.

Ms. Cleofas noted that by 2024, there would have been new water plants coming online. “Maynilad has given their assurance that by the end of the year, we will get 50 million liters per day from the Poblacion Water Treatment Plant, but our problem really is Maynilad’s Putatan,” she said.

Maynilad has said some areas in Cavite would have no water while its Putatan Water Treatment Plant undergoes maintenance.

“On the part of MWSS, we are already taking action,” Ms. Cleofas said. “The National Water Agency of Singapore is dispatching experts to have third-party assistance at Putatan. So, we will be able to have the right solution. Hopefully within two weeks, they will be here.”