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Reduced water allocation

El Niño is here and water consumers are feeling it. The National Water Resources Board has further reduced the water allocation to Metro Manila’s two water concessionaires amid the drought that has kept the water level in the Angat reservoir low.

The water agency lowered the supply to Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. from 38 cubic meters a second last month to 36 cubic meters this month in an effort to manage the water level of the Angat Dam. The agency monitored the water elevation at 189.91 meters,  or 20.09 meters below the normal level.

Metro Manila’s consumers are among those who are bearing the brunt of the dry spell. The reduced allocation to the two concessionaires means pressure from the pipes will decrease and the current seven-hour daily water interruption in the area served by Maynilad Water may lengthen. Manila Water, meanwhile, will keep its seven-hour water pressure reduction as a result of the decision of the NWRB.

The water authority in times of drought gives priority to rice farmers to keep their lands irrigated. The government agency normally cuts off the supply of water for electricity generation and divert the resource for irrigation purposes. The supply to water distributors is likewise reduced to make the resource available to farmlands in Bulacan and some parts of Pampanga.

El Niño, however, will wreak havoc on farmlands that are not reached by irrigation facilities. The dry spell has already resulted in crop damage worth over P3 billion as of August. The Agriculture Department last week assessed the damage to rice, corn, high value crops and livestock sector at P3.3 billion, affecting 65,855 farmers nationwide. The damage, according to the department, covered 112,387 hectares of corn, including 36,869 hectares with no chance of recovery.

Mindanao, meanwhile, with its heavy reliance on hydro-electric dams, will also suffer the brunt of El Niño through power outages.

El Niño may come back in the near future because of the changing climate pattern. Authorities, thus, must prepare harder to lessen its impact, especially on consumers and the less fortunate farmers.

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