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We need a Department of Water – Pernia

MANILA, Philippines – Socieconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the absence of a singular government agency dealing with water-related activities led to the burgeoning water crisis.

"We should really have had instituted an apex body for water. We have so many agencies dealing with water and it's very conflicting. And it's not been effective and this is why we have a crisis now," Pernia told CNN Philippines on Friday, March 15.

Metro Manila and nearby provinces Cavite and Rizal are serviced by two water concessionaires. The west zone is handled by Maynilad, while the east zone is under Manila Water. (EXPLAINER: What caused Manila Water's service problems?)

Both concessionaires are regulated by the government agency Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). Meanwhile, countrywide water-related activities are under the National Water Resources Board.

Parts of Metro Manila and Rizal serviced by Ayala-led Manila Water went waterless for days. The water shortage led to a spike in the demand for disposable products, as well as, temporary closure of some businesses. 

Pernia said that there should be a "Department of Water," much like there is a "Department of Energy."

"We don't have a Department of Water that would centralize all activities having to do with water resource, distribution, and supply so we don't get into this kind of crisis," Pernia said.

 

Manila Water pointed to supply shortage as reason to the crisis, given that the water demand from Angat Dam of 1,740 million liters per day (MLD) – higher than their 1,600 MLD allocation.

While Manila Water told consumers to "wait" for the rainy season, it said that they are still looking to secure more sources of water, such as drilling wells and fast-tracking the energization of the water treatment plant in Cardona, Rizal. (READ: Manila Water sends 'conspiracy theories' down the drain)

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources also said it would open previously closed deep wells until October to help mitigate the shortage. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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