Water shortage seen likely in 2024 with El Niño looming  

PARTS of Metro Manila and nearby provinces will likely experience a water shortage next year with dry spells expected with the El Niño weather phenomenon looming, a former water regulator aid.

“If rains fail to bring up the water level of Angat dam, we won’t reach safe levels that will carry us to next year. It’s not this year, the concern will be next year if the rains don’t come,” Ramon B. Alikpala, former chairman of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), said in a briefing Tuesday.

Angat Dam supplies about 90% of the water needs of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

On April 11, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reported that the water level at Angat declined to 199.13 meters from 199.37 meters a day earlier.

The dam has a minimum operating level of 180 meters and a normal high-water level of 212 meters, which is considered the level that provides an adequate safety margin for supply during the dry months.

PAGASA has said that El Niño is likely to develop in the second half of this year and run until next year.

“A new operating dam is much needed because Angat Dam can no longer keep up with the spiking demand for water. Simultaneously, there is also overpopulation and climate change, which call for an immediate solution,” Mr. Alikpala said.

Leonor C. Cleofas, MWSS administrator, said in a Viber message Tuesday that the MWSS has a water security roadmap that will address the growing demand for water.

She said that the MWSS is still confident that the water supply is sufficient to ride out the dry months.

“With the elevation of Angat we can get past the dry season. For next year, we have additional sources of water that will come online,” Ms. Cleofas said.

Delfin Sespene, an engineer with the MWSS site operations and management department, said the water regulator has once again requested that the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) increase the allocation from Angat to 52 cubic meters per second (CMS).

“Actually, we will be presenting to them tomorrow (Wednesday). We have a board meeting with NWRB. If NWRB does not approve, we have augmentation measures in case they cannot provide the 52. but we are hopeful,” Mr. Sespene said.

The MWSS normally draws 48 CMS from Angat. The NWRB temporarily raised the allocation for MWSS to 50 CMS between April 1 and 15. — Ashley Erika O. Jose