Sat, Mar 16, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Philippine water shortage affects 6.8 million people

RATIONING:Manila Water Co blamed the problem on surging demand, reduced water levels in a dam, a sweltering summer and the El Nino effect


Residents line up to get water brought by a fire truck after their supply was cut days before in Mandaluyong, Philippines, on Thursday.

Photo: AP

About 6.8 million people have been affected by a water shortage in and around Metro Manila, with long lines forming for rationed water and businesses and some hospitals struggling to cope after faucets ran dry.

Water supplies would be cut for at least six hours a day for more than 1 million households until the rainy season fills dams and reservoirs in May or June, Manila Water Co spokesman Jeric Sevilla said on Thursday.

The firm, one of two government-authorized water suppliers in the densely populated Manila metropolis and Rizal province, said a spike in demand and reduced water levels in a dam and smaller reservoirs in the sweltering summer are the culprit, exacerbated by El Nino weather conditions.

Manila Water, which supplies water to the eastern half of the metropolis, initially tried to cope with the limited supply by reducing pressure, but it did not work since some communities in hilly areas complained of not getting water for long hours.

The company then decided to schedule water supply interruptions starting on Thursday, Sevilla said.

“The concept is for everybody to share the burden,” Sevilla said by phone. “Nobody wants this to happen. The welfare of our customers is foremost in our mind and we’re taking steps to mitigate the situation.”

A company advisory said residents in more than a dozen cities and towns would lose their water supply from six to 21 hours a day through the summer months and appealed for public understanding.

In the city of Mandaluyong, residents lined up for hours with pails and water jugs to get water from firetrucks.

“We have no water. It has been one week, not a drop in our faucet,” resident Richie Baloyo said. “There are children going to school, people need to work, how do you expect them to collect water like this?”

Many water-dependent businesses, such as car washes and laundries, have closed temporarily. Some restaurants are using paper plates or porcelain plates covered with disposable plastic sheets to conserve water.

Philippine Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III made an urgent appeal to relatives of hospital patients to “limit the watchers of your patients to one” to cut water use.

The Philippine Congress is to hold inquiries next week into the cause of the crisis.

The government has been blamed for decades of delay in constructing another dam and other related infrastructure.

Manila Water has been criticized for not adequately preparing for contingencies.

“El Nino is not really the culprit,” Sevilla said. “It’s actually supply and demand.”

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