Emergency power not needed for Angat's critical water level – MWSS

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 24) — An emergency power is unnecessary and will not address the lowering water level of Angat Dam, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said Monday.

"Kahit anong gawin natin, kahit na saan tayo mag-meet ang kritical dito 'yung tubig, dadagdag ba 'yung tubig sa Angat? Kahit na sinong superman dito kung hindi talaga uulan walang kakayanin 'yan. Walang magaling dito kung hindi makikipagtulungan, makiki-cooperate ang weather," MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco said in a media briefing.

[Translation: Whatever we do, wherever we meet, what's critical here is the water supply. Even if we meet superman, if it doesn't rain and weather won't cooperate, the problem will not be addressed.]

"Kahit bigyan natin ng emergency power, saan tayo kukuha ng tubig?" he added.

[Translation: Even if we are given emergency power, where will we get water?]

The National Water Resources Board on Saturday reduced the allocation of water from 40 cubic meters per second (cms) to 36 (cms) after Angat Dam fell below the 160-meter critical mark the same day, prompting water concessionaires to impose supply interruptions. As of Monday morning, the MWSS said the minimum operating level of the dam has dipped to 159.09 meters.

The lowering water level also prompted shutdown of the Angat Hydroelectric Powerplant, which supplies 200 megawatts for the Luzon grid.

"As of now, we are still awaiting for the Energy department's response if the shutdown will affect the current power supply in the said area," MWRB Executive Director Sevillo David Jr said.

Velasco said the least officials can do is to manage the current water resources in the dam.

"What we are trying to do is inaayos natin 'yung (we fix resource) management para ma-stress din naman natin 'yung kapasidad ng tubig sa Angat (to stress the capacity of Angat) until such time na umulan (that it rains)," he said.

He said the MWSS has already opened low-level water outlet to distribute more water.

"We are 30 percent open and is producing 15 cms para mabigay 'yung (to provide the required) 36 (cms). Susubukan namin iakayat sa 50 kung mag-improve 'yung pino-produce niyang tubig kasi kung ma-imporve 'yan medyo malaking bagay para makatulong sa management ng water sa Angat (We are trying to make it 50 cms if the water production improves. If it does, it will be a big help to manage water supply in Angat.]

Velasco urged water concessionaires to follow their published schedule of water interruptions and consumers to store water just enough for the period that there is no supply.

"Ang pakiusap namin nga dahil nabawasan 'yung allocation, una pinakiusapan natin na 'yung concessionaires na kung ano 'yung scheule nila dapat tuparin. On the part naman sa mga consumer sana kung ano man 'yung schedule lang na wala silang tubig sapat lang dun sa walang tubig ang ipunin nila kasi pag nag-ipon sila ng sobra don baka naman maapektuhan 'yung reservoir ng ating mga concessionaire," he said.

[Translation: Since the allocation has been lessened, we urge water concessionaires to follow their schedule. On the part of consumers, just store water enough for the period of water interruptions because if you store so much water, it may affect the reservoir of our concessionaires.]

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the minimum operating level of Angat Dam will "most probably" normalize by September or October.

Junie Ruiz, a climatologist from PAGASA, said Angat's water recharge will begin to refill next month and may return to its 180-meter minimum operating level three months after.

"Sa projection namin, it would be starting in July onwards. Kung magkaroon naman tayo ng significant rainfall for July which is in a period of one or two weeks na may ulan talaga na significant, then paunti-unti na pong dadami 'yung recharge," Ruiz said in a media briefing.

[Translation: Based on our projection, it will start July onwards. If there will be significant rainfall in one or two weeks, then the water charge will slowly increase.]

"It would not take only one month, maybe three months or more kasi po ang unang factor, naging tuyo po tayo in the past tag-init natin which is April or May, and during that period hindi naman masyado nakatanggap si Angat ng maraming ulan, so kung magkaroon man po ng sunud-sunod na maraming ulan, for example one week it would just wet the soil so babasain lang po nya 'yung lupa which is in the Angat water shed, then after ma-saturate 'yung soil then tsaka sya pupunta ng water table at magiging runoff which is magiging recharge na po sya ng Angat, so it would take time," Ruiz added.

[Translation: It would not take only one month, maybe three or more because we were dry during summer when Angat Dam did not experience so much rain, so if we were to have successive rains, for example, one week, it would just saturate the soil, so it will take time.]

"October din naman 'yung period kung saan nagla-land crossing 'yung bagyo sa Central Luzon," he added. Angat Dam is in Bulacan, a province in Central Luzon.

[Translation: October is the period when typhoons cross Central Luzon.]