The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is continuously fine-tuning its disaster preparedness program in the wake of the recent earthquake that rocked Metro Manila and neighbouring provinces recently.

This was disclosed by MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco as he underscored the need to closely collaborate with all stakeholders especially with its concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad even as he pointed out that the water shortage experienced in the East Zone last March demonstrated how teamwork can indeed address a crisis.

“Cross-border sharing between Manila Water and Maynilad was among the short-term solutions to the water crisis,” Velasco said. “The water crisis also resulted in the activation of deep wells to augment dwindling water supply,” he added.

Velasco also stressed the need for a water security plan to cushion the effect of an earthquake that could potentially damage Angat Dam, the primary water source for Metro Manila and neighboring provinces of Rizal and Cavite.

“The need for a water security plan is not only a concern of the Philippines. It is also a concern of other nations. But, more so for countries like the Philippines with growth centers like Metro Manila that greatly depend on one water source,” he said.

In a joint meeting between the NDRRMC and Earthquake Resiliency Team for the Water Sector, a total of 109 existing deep wells were identified that could be re-activated in case of disaster which are operated by Manila Water and Maynilad.  To ensure water potability, regular maintenance check-up is to be conducted.  A draft Memorandum of Agreement between MWSS through the concessionaires and the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) mandates for the conduct of periodic monitoring of water quality.

In case of a disaster, there are nine (9) available mobile water treatment plants, 43 static water tanks, and 79 mobile water tankers that can be deployed. There are also 64 water reservoirs with a total capacity of 1,222 MLD. The Maynilad facility reservoirs have a 711 MLD capacity while that of Manila Water is 511 MLD.

MWSS has also crafted a water security roadmap that will provide potable and sustainable water supply in the next 5, 10 and even 50 years with at an increase of at least 1,518 MLD by 2022.

Being fast-tracked under the new water security roadmap are the following projects: 150 MLD Putatan (2019); 100 MLD Cardona (2019); 188 MLD Sumag (2020); 50 MLD Rizal Wellfield (2020); 80 MLD Calawis Wawa (2021); 100 MLD Putatan 3 (2022); and 250 MLD Lower Ipo. These, aside from the 600 MLD Kaliwa Dam project whose implementation has begun in 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2023.

Being eyed as medium-term water source projects from 2023 to 2027 are the following: 420 MLD Wawa Dam; 250 MLD East Bay; 350 MLD Bayabas Dam; 550 MLD Angat Norzagaray Phase 2; 250 MLD East Bay; 750 MLD Sierra Madre; and 1,800 MLD Kanan River Phase 1.

To complement the New Water Security Roadmap (2019-2022) is the need to fast track the completion of Aqueduct 6 and Tunnel 4, both expected to be operationalized by January 2020.

MWSS also expects to complete by June 2022, Aqueduct 7 and Tunnel 5 which are now on stream to provide another 1,600 MLD to flow towards La Mesa reservoir. The completion of these aqueducts and tunnel system will optimize the flow of excess water from Angat to La Mesa Dam.

Meanwhile, the Angat Dam and Dyke Strengthening Project has been concluded, a step towards ensuring the structural integrity of Angat Dam. Immediately after the earthquake, MWSS dispatched its team of engineers to assess the Angat, Ipo and La Mesa dams.

“Despite the challenges and difficulties that may arise, we have to be aggressive in developing new water sources. It is not the difficulties that will cripple us in our pursuit but the way we view our difficulties and our choice of priorities,” Velasco said.