Ibon Foundation alarmed over water shortage during coronavirus lockdown

Aika Rey
Ibon Foundation alarmed over water shortage during coronavirus lockdown
Parts of Metro Manila experience water service interruptions, according to think tank IBON Foundation

MANILA, Philippines – Think tank IBON Foundation raised concerns about a water shortage reported by consumers, as the Philippines extended the Luzon lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In a press release on Thursday, April 9, IBON said that consumers continue to complain over water service interruption on concessionaires’ social media accounts.

As frequent handwashing is advised to avoid contracting the virus, IBON urged the government to “regulate or directly manage water concessionaires in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.”

“Ensure efficient water supply. Immediately account for all areas that have no or problematic connections and ensure that water is delivered,” IBON said.

It also said that the government should ensure potable water is available, and that water supply is accessible for all.

“Expedite the installation of free water conenctions to unconnected households. Also, write off water bills for the whole duration of the lockdown especially for households consuming 30 cubic meters and lower,” IBON said, saying that this would lessen the economic strain on those heavily affected by the lockdown.

According to the think tank, Manila Water consumers in Quezon City and Taguig complain of 12-hour water interruptions, while some barangays in Marikina, Pasig, and parts of Rizal reported no connection or weak supply.

Maynilad, in a March 27 Facebook post, said they were able to “shorten the daily water service interruptions” but added that some areas, “particularly those in highly elevated portions” will still experience low pressure to no water supply daily.

IBON said that Quezon City, Valenzuela, Caloocan, Manila, and Makati Maynilad consumers reported that water does not reach higher floors of apartments. “At worst, there is no water at all for several hours, days, or up to 3 weeks,” it said.

As of Thursday, April 9, Angat Dam water level is at 193.90 meters, slightly above its minimum operating water level of 180 meters.

Water concessionaires in March said that there is “enough supply,” even as increased consumption was expected during summer.

On March 12, the National Water Resources Board increased raw water supply from Angat Dam, Metro Manila’s main source, from 42 cubic meter per second (cms) to 46 cms because of the declaration of public health emergency due to the coronavirus.

President Rodrigo Duterte had warned of a government takeover of Metro Manila’s water sector should it experience another crisis amid the coronavirus scare.

The government is currently reviewing the concession agreements of Manila Water and Maynilad over supposedly onerous provisions– 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.