AS the country is expected to feel the impact of a fierce El Niño starting this month, Malacañang appealed to the public to support water conservation efforts to help mitigate the impact of the drought that may be felt until early next year.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said water conservation can delay the bite of the impending water crisis.
“That’s part of the measures that we’re encouraging but we will lay it all out, both on the rural side and both on the urban side, so there is a holistic approach to resolving and mitigating the effects of El Niño,” Lacierda told reporters.
The Department of Science and Technology warned that water levels in reservoirs are dipping because of low rainfall levels in the past months.
As of Wednesday, the water elevation in Angat was 186.3 meters, which is 26 meters lower than the normal high level of 212 meters. The reservoir provides around 90 percent of the water needs of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces. The dam’s water level is 13 percent below the year-end target of 212 meters.
Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino 3rd has instructed concerned government agencies to draw up drought mitigation plans. He has also been meeting Cabinet officials to discuss the government’s plan of action on the impending dry spell.
“So we have been laying out all the measures to mitigate the effects of El Niño. At some point, we will inform the public, pero inutusan na ni Pangulong Aquino na pag-aralan paano natin i-mi-mitigate ang effects ng El Niño (the president has directed officials to study how to mitigate the effects of El Niño) because obviously it’s a natural phenomenon. Because of climate change we have that and so we need to mitigate the effects of El Niño,” he said.
Lacierda said the agricultural sector will be greatly affected by the dry spell. He noted that areas that rely on rainwater for irrigation will be the hardest hit.
“So, primarily, we need to protect also our farmers, those that are heavily dependent on weather for their livelihood. So we need to mitigate those effects on those particular sectors,” he added.
Water service concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water on Tuesday announced water interruptions lasting for 12 hours starting next week because of the dwindling supply from Angat dam.
The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) agreed to reduce the water allocation for Metro Manila from 41 cubic meters per second (cms) in August to 38 cms this month to prepare for the dry spell.