THE government will conduct cloud seeding to lessen the effects of El Niño in several parts of the country, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesperson Edgar Posadas said.
Posadas said as agreed during the second inter-agency meeting to discuss response action on El Niño, concerned government agencies will conduct seeding starting Thursday, March 14, until May 21 in Cagayan Valley and Soccsksargen, which were badly affected by drought.
Based on reports from the Department of Agriculture, a total of P464.3 million production loss and P22.918 million in volume loss were recorded as of March 8 in Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen, Mimaropa, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Cloud seeding, a process of adding chemicals into clouds to produce rain, still depends on the seedable cloud and favorable direction of air, said Posadas.
The cloud seeding, though, will not be able to cover the declining level of water at La Mesa dam, which is considered the cause of water shortage being experienced in several parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces like Rizal.
Meanwhile, the Angat Dam, the main source of water in Metro Manila, is still within its normal operating level at 199.94 meters elevation compared to its minimum operating level at 180 meters, which means that it can sufficiently address Metro Manila’s water requirements.
“The declining of La Mesa Dam is caused by the increase in water treatment production of Manila Water. The water allocation of Manila Water from MWSS sourced from Angat Dam is 18.5 cubic meters per second (1600 million liters per day). The water demand from Manila Water consumers, however, has increased to 20.25 cms (1750 million liters per day), forcing the latter to source the deficit from La Mesa Dam,” the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) explained.
As a remedy to the water shortage, which affects over 50,000 households in the East Zone of Metro Manila, the concerned agencies, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), MWSS, National Irrigation Administration, Manila Water, Maynilad, and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) have committed to continue their close coordination to ensure that water supply releases from the Angat Dam are optimized and that the cross border gate opening shall be done in which 50 million liter per day (MLD) from Maynilad will be delivered to Manila Water.
The MWSS also presented during the second inter-agency meeting its contingency plans, which include rotating water supply and pressure management, energization of Cardona Water Treatment plant on March 31 that can provide additional 50 MLD, non-revenue water recovery, utilization of backwash from water treatment plant, and deployment of mobile water treatment plants, in which five units shall come from Manila Water and three standby units from Maynilad, as well as water tankers including that from the Philippine Red Cross.
The NWRB and MWSS said they will also activate the MWSS's backup deep wells in case there is a need to augment the water supply.
“We want to assure the public that the government is doing everything to ensure adequate water supply for all. These agencies present in today’s meeting, especially those working with the water sector will continue to collaborate to provide these needed services to the public,” Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad said.
Jalad said the concerned agencies will hold similar meeting to assess the situation amid the El Niño nationwide.
Present during the meeting held Thursday, March 14, in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City were Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary Renato Solidum and representatives from Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Pagasa, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Poverty Commission, National Electrification Commission, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Local Water Utilities Administration, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, MWSS, Commission on Elections, and Office of the Civil Defense.
Private groups such as the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, as well as water concessionaires, Maynilad, and Manila Water were also present. (SunStar Philippines)