A WATER truck delivers water in Manila following days of service interruption in this March 2023 photo. — PHILIPPINE STAR/EDD GUMBAN

THE NATIONAL Water Resources Board (NWRB) is considering a further reduction in the allocation for Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) as Angat Dams water level continues to decline.

“We are now coordinating with MWSS for possible adjustments to prepare in case the water level in Angat declines further and to ensure that we can meet our water needs until the end of the year,” NWRB Executive Director Sevillo D. David, Jr. said in a Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday.

He said they are assessing the possibility of reducing the water allocation of MWSS to 48 cubic meters per second (CMS).

For July, the NWRB reduced the water allocation for MWSS to 50 CMS from 52 CMS in June. Normally, MWSS only draws 48 CMS from the Angat Dam, but the MWSS earlier requested an increase in water allocation to minimize domestic service interruptions.

As of 6 am on Wednesday, the water level in Angat Dam dropped to 181.22 meters from 181.57 meters a day earlier. This is slightly above the 180-meter normal operating level.

Angat Dam is the major raw water source of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) showed that other major dams supplying Luzon also declined in the last 24 hours.

“As of now we defer to PAGASA (forecast) that by July to September, habagat (southwest monsoon) is still expected. We are expecting rains in watersheds particularly in Angat,” Mr. David said.

On Tuesday, the country’s state weather bureau declared the onset of El Niño, which is expected to bring dry spells and droughts in some areas in the Philippines.

PAGASA said El Niño will likely persist until the first quarter of 2024 and shows signs of strengthening in the coming months.

The NWRB is now coordinating with MWSS in looking for other water sources apart from Angat dam, Mr. David said.

Patrick James B. Dizon, head of the MWSS Angat/Ipo operations management division, said the MWSS is studying the impact of possible allocation cuts.

“Based on Angat protocol once the water level falls below 180 meters, domestic water supply will be given priority,” Mr. Dizon said in a Viber message.

Dittie L. Galang, head of corporate communications of Manila Water Co., Inc., said based on the company’s projection, its water augmentation sources will still be sufficient to cover the supply deficit in case water allocation is reduced.

For the west zone water concessionaire, however, Jennifer C. Rufo, head of corporate communications of Maynilad Water Services, Inc., said any further reductions in the water allocation will definitely impact on its service levels.

“The extent of this impact will depend on how significant the reductions are going to be, and how much rainfall the watersheds will receive. Our supply augmentation measures will also mitigate this,” Ms. Rufo said. Ashley Erika O. Jose