Water supply concessionaire Manila Water on Monday, March 18, apologized to its customers for the unexpected water service interruptions that affected many households in Metro Manila and Rizal province.
Manila Water Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ferdinand de la Cruz appeared before the congressional hearing to take responsibility for the water shortage that affected most of the people in Eastern part of Metro Manila and nearby areas.
“I am ready to resign. I am holding myself accountable for the unexpected drop in service levels to your constituents whom we have consistently served over the past 21 years with 24/7 water availability and sufficient pressure,” de la Cruz said as reported by The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said that they are also considering to refund the water bill payments of those affected by the said water supply shortage.
“We will be studying options if there is going to be a rebate. Normally, we do it in the next rate rebasing, but unfortunately congressmen are saying that 2022 is too long,” MWSS chief regulator Patrick Ty said.
“We will discuss this after we fix the problem. They (Manila Water) hope to find a solution by April so we will study all options by that time,” he added.
According to de la Cruz, operations of the distributor in charge of the capital’s east zone will return to normal by the end of summer. The supply deficit will be halved by April and will be reduced further to 15 percent by May.
Manila Water also attributed the water supply shortage to high consumer demand, as it cited the condition of the Angat Dam, its main supply source.
They said that water it needed increased to 1,740 million liters (MLD) per day, higher than its 1,600 MLD allocation. To add to that, Maynilad gets 2,400 MLD from Angat Dam, which has a capacity of 4,000 MLD.
MWSS also said that the Manila Water’s failure to complete a treatment plant in Cardona, Rizal was also partly to blame for the water shortage.
Palace: No water crisis, just mismanagement
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on the same day, that there was no water crisis in Metro Manila, rather he attributed the water shortages as a product of Manila Water and Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s (MWSS) inefficiency.
“Eh, iyong lang problema lang na iyon, nagawan kaagad nila ng paraan eh. Simpleng-simple lang ang problema. They created their own problem, and they provided the solution. It’s purely inefficiency, mismanagement (They were able to solve the problem, which was so simple. They created their own problem, and they provided the solution. It’s purely inefficiency, mismanagement),” Panelo said as reported by CNN Philippines.
The spokesman shared that the MWSS was able to restore the water supply of 90 customers in Metro Manila right after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the release of water from Angat Dam.
Water department placed under Office of the President
A draft executive order to place the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) under the Office of the President is on the works to address the water crisis experienced by certain areas in Metro Manila.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles revealed on Sunday, March 17, that such transfer would focus on the “policy, direction-setting, and the integration of all government efforts pertaining to water” as they were set to craft a “national water management master plan.”
“At this point, we have built a consensus on how we can address these issues, but the recommendations as outlined in the EO will still be subject to the approval of the President,” Nograles said as reported by Rappler.
“Given the scope and breadth of water-related concerns, the supervision of OP could help ensure that all 30-plus agencies involved in water resource management are on the same page,” he added.
At present, the NWRB is under the supervision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). NWRB coordinates and regulates water-related activities in the entire country that has an impact on the physical environment and the economy.