Duterte to meet with MWSS officials about water shortage

Pia Ranada
Duterte to meet with MWSS officials about water shortage
MWSS officials will likely be asked to give an update on what has been done to address the water shortage affecting parts of Metro Manila and Rizal, says Malacañang

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to meet with Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) officials on Tuesday night, March 19.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters he saw the meeting in Duterte’s schedule for that evening. 

“Maybe the MWSS will explain. Maybe they will report on what has happened with the President’s directive,” said Panelo in Filipino on Tuesday afternoon.

The meeting will be centered on the water shortage affecting parts of Metro Manila and Rizal, specifically areas being serviced by concessionaire Manila Water. Panelo could not say if Manila Water officials will also join the meeting.

Last Friday, March 15, Duterte had ordered the MWSS to tell Manila Water and the other concessionaire, Maynilad Water Services, to release water from the Angat Dam good for 150 days or else face his ire.

MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco reacted to the order, saying it seems Duterte was given the wrong advice. The presidential order, he said, was impossible to implement since it requires the release of 600,000 million liters per day (MLD) or the equivalent of 150-day water supply, which cannot be done with the current infrastructure.

The current infrastructure only allows up to 4,000 MLD to be released from the Angat Dam. There is no way of going beyond that.

The ongoing supply shortage was caused by the La Mesa Dam drying up and water being unable to reach the aqueduct gates. (READ: Manila Water’s supply crisis: What we know so far)

In a House hearing conducted on Monday, March 18, Manila Water chief executive officer Ferdinand dela Cruz said they have restored water supply to 80% of the East Zone, or around one million customers.

The concessionaire also gave assurances that its services will return to normal by the last week of May. (READ: Lawmakers call for refund after Manila Water shortage– Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.