By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

A SENATOR has called on local water companies to work with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to come up with contingency measures to ensure continuous water supply this summer season amid the higher risk of heat-related diseases.

In a statement on Tuesday, Senator Mary Grace N. Poe-Llamanzares said clean and available water is crucial in mitigating various health risks due to the expected intense heat at the onset of summer.

“The heat is on, water is on high demand, and without it, our health is at risk,” she said. “Water providers must ensure an uninterrupted, 24/7 supply.”

In a news conference on Monday, Cebu City Mayor Michael L. Rama declared a water crisis in his city due to water shortages caused by the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

The Department of Agriculture has said that damage to agriculture has been valued at P1.75 billion due to intensifying El Niño conditions, displacing at least 29,427 farmers across 32, 231 hectares of affected land.

Ms. Poe-Llamanzares noted that households would have to resort to buying rationed water or from taps in communities if supply is interrupted during the summer.

She also said unsafe water sources could lead to gastrointestinal illnesses.

The senator earlier filed Senate Bill. No. 102 which seeks to create a Department of Water Resources, one of the government’s priority measures, to put in place policies that would address water supply issues.

Late last month, the MWSS directed Metro Manila’s water concessionaires to implement measures that would ensure supply and continuity of service during the summer months.

Patrick James B. Dizon, manager of MWSS’ water and sewerage management department, said both Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Co., Inc. have been issued the directive.

In response, the concessionaires have already begun implementing reduced water pressure measures.

Earlier, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) declared a reduction in the raw water allocation of Metro Manila to 48 cubic meters per second (cms) from April 16-31.

The MWSS relies on the approved raw water allocation by the NWRB, highlighting that an allocation below 50 cms could potentially affect service areas, particularly those at higher elevations.

But on Tuesday, the NWRB said it was considering raising the water allocation for late April by two cms if the water level at Angat Dam does not drop.

The two have already initiated augmentation measures, including the installation of static water tanks with Maynilad deploying 130 static water tanks across its service areas, and Manila Water installing nine as of March 26.