While there is enough water supply, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on Friday appealed to the public to conserve water to cushion the effects of El Niño during the months of summer.
“Since we primarily source our water from Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system, we have to do our share to help lessen the effect of El Niño not only on our need for water in our households and industries but also on agriculture,” MWSS administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
He said there is always a need to use water wisely to prevent shortage and ensure its the steady supply, especially during the dry season; and to contain the effects of El Niño in the tropical Pacific although weak it may be.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), this development has resulted in the upgrade of the ENSO Alert System to El Niño Advisory, adding that this year may be the warmest year in record because the El Niño is worsened by man-made global warming as bared by scientists.
Velasco said that, as a rule, discharge for potable water supply becomes the priority during drought events, reducing water releases for agricultural irrigation and power generation.
Water from Angat passes through Ipo Dam where it is then released to La Mesa Dam. According to PAGASA, La Mesa Dam has a 47-cubic-meter-per-second (cms) allocation of water from Angat Dam, higher than the 44 cms the government normally earmarks for it during the dry season.
Velasco said the water level at La Mesa is recorded below normal level and has prompted calls for water conservation from concerned sectors to maintain water reserve availability.
A MWSS bulletin said as of March 5, its reservoir water level is 69.47 meters, down from its normal high water level of 80. 15 meters.
The onset of the dry season and the increasing demand from burgeoning population contributed to the decline in water level.
This does not mean, however, that a water shortage looms in the horizon for residents of Metro Manila and neighboring provinces unless there is disregard for water conservation until the rainy months set in.
The rainfall for Angat watershed for March is forecast at 38.1 percent, way below normal and 68.8 percent, below normal for April. Rainfall condition is way below normal if the percentage is less than or = 40; below normal if it is 41-80; near normal, 81- 120; and above normal if it is greater than 120.
Forecast rainfall for Metro Manila in percent of normal is 37.8 percent in March, way below normal. April, May and June rainfall forecasts are below normal.
The province of Bulacan that hosts the Angat reservoir also has a way below normal rainfall forecast at 32.1 percent in March. Except for southern Mindanao and Surigao del Sur where near normal is likely, most parts of the country is forecast to have way below to below normal rainfall conditions this month.
According to PAGASA’s Climate Outlook for March-August 2019, average to slightly warmer than average temperature will prevail during the period.
Six to nine tropical cyclones may develop/enter the Philippine area of responsibility but the frequency will be below average based on historical perspectives.
PAGASA also forecast meteorological dry spell to drought conditions in most areas of the country in the coming months.
MWSS has its water security plan for 2018-2023 in place and is aimed at easing the strain on the Angat-Ipo-La-Mesa water system and ensure water supply during the occurrence of El Niño, among others.
This stop-gap measure consists of the A-B-C projects and Wawa Dam Project of the consortium of Enrique Razon and Oscar Violago, pending the completion of the Kaliwa Dam. (PNA)