Duterte order to release 150 days worth of water from Angat not possible – MWSS

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 15) — President Rodrigo Duterte's order for the release of 150 days worth of water from Angat Dam to alleviate the water crisis is not possible, according to the government agency in charge of ensuring efficient supply of potable water.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on Friday said the President may have been misinformed.

"Actually pikon na rin sya, but ah, I think the recommendation that were given to him, are not the right recommendation," MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco told reporters in a chance interview.

He said about 4,000 million liters of water are being released from Angat Dam per day, adding that "we have actually released all the water already that can be accommodated sa La Mesa Dam."

The National Water Resources Board, which manages Angat Dam, likewise said the current supply can last for the whole summer, but Manila Water's infrastructure can only take in a limited volume of water.

Duterte's order

These agencies issued the clarification after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Friday said Duterte directed concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad to immediately release of 150 days worth of water to Metro Manila and nearby provinces – by noontime.

"The President is directing the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to demand from the Manila Water Company, Inc., Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and other responsible offices to release water from Angat Dam by noon time today, March 15, good for 150 days, in order to supply the affected areas in Metro Manila and deliver, as well as distribute sufficient water to the residents thereof," Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo also said that those who will fail to comply will feel the wrath of Duterte.

"Failure to act or comply with this directive, the President will personally go to them and make the responsible officers account for such failure," he said.

Velasco said he has since reached out to Malacañang to explain the problem, which he said stems from the failure of Manila Water to operate its water treatment plant in Cardona, Rizal by December last year. This could have augmented water supply for its consumers, he added.

On March 7, customers of Manila Water were surprised by an unannounced water interruption. Since then, its 1.2 million customers have been experiencing no water supply or low water pressure. The water concessionaire attributes the shortage to the decreasing water levels at the La Mesa reservoir in Quezon City due to the dry spell.

Solutions to the water crisis

Measures being undertaken to solve the problem include the sharing in supply of the two utility firms, Manila Water and Maynila. On Friday, Maynilad opened one of its valves in Quezon City to begin distributing its supply to Manila Water. It is currently allocating 50 million liters per day to Manila Water in a bid to help ease the supply gap.

"Kasama po yun sa concession agreement, na magshesharing ng water, in cases of emergency," said Ronaldo Padua, head of Maynilad's Water Supply Operations

The Manila Water is also cutting supply in areas where there is normal water supply to redirect to areas where there is no water at all.

"Nilolower po namin yung pressure, para po ma extend po natin yung supply sa mas maraming nacocover na area. At kailangan magsakripisyo po ng konti yung iba, para makinabang yung iba," Manila Water President and CEO Ferdinand dela Cruz said.

CNN Philippines' David Santos, Lara Tan, and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.