HOUSE members back the suggestion of a Jesuit-run school in recycling wastewater, including urine, but noted that it must be first determined whether water crisis is truly existing in the Metropolis.

“While I laud the effort of the private sector specifically on the recycling of wastewater, a better effort should be made in determining what the root cause of the problem is,” Representative Romero "Miro" Quimbo (Second district, Marikina) told Sun.Star.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The legislator was reacting to the idea ushered by Xavier School in San Juan City when it told Sun.Star that wastewater treatment plant could be used to avert water crisis in Metro Manila.

The school has been saving water by recycling water from drainages, drainpipes, and toilets, and through a membrane-based process.

Quimbo pointed out that the water crisis might be used by distribution companies as an excuse to jack up their prices.

“I fear that the situation might be one created by the water concessionaries to alarm people or to justify a rate increase," he said. "That's what government needs to do first before we go into recycling our toilet flushed water."

Gabriela Representative Luzviminda Ilagan also favored the water recycling move and also suggested the construction of a desalination plant.

Desalination refers to a process in which the excess salt from sea water is removed resulting from a production of fresh water.

“Why not a desalination plant? Manila Bay is a bigger source," she said.

Declaring state of calamity

Earlier, several lawmakers urged President Benigno Aquino III to declare a state of calamity in Metro Manila to address the water crisis.

Manila Water and Sewerage System (MWSS) reported Wednesday morning that the water level rose from 157.63 to 158.20 meters but it still far from the normal operating level.

Representative Maria Carmen Apsay (First District, Compostela Valley) said the declaration of a state of calamity is an option that Aquino may take to mobilize all prerogatives available to address the crisis in some parts of Luzon.

Apsay, together with Representative Marcelino Teodoro (First District, Marikina) and Ilagan, also urged the government to adopt a long-term and more sustainable measure to address the water crisis.

“Action plan towards mitigating effects of climate change should already be put in play as we are clearly experiencing the effects of global warming,” Apsay said.

Teodoro meanwhile noted that there is really no one to blame with this dilemma since this is an act of nature. The efforts of Manila Water in aiding the scarcity of Maynilad are only a short-term solution.

“It maybe effective for some time but there is already a need for the President to declare a state of calamity to strengthen and empower the government agencies concerned,” Teodoro stressed.

On Tuesday, Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson blamed the National Power Corporation for mismanaging the release of water from the Angat Dam when typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng hit the country last year.

Palace says 'no'

There is no need for the Palace to declare state of calamity in Metro Manila to address the water shortage in the area, a Malacañang official said Wednesday.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the water shortage only affects areas serviced by Maynilad and not Manila Water.

“Manila Water has no problem; La Mesa Dam is doing okay. So if necessary, Manila Water can provide assistance to Maynilad. So walang problema ‘yun,” he added.

The Palace official said there is no worst case scenario yet to merit a declaration of state of calamity.

He assured that solutions are in place and the Department of Public Works and Highways and other concerned agencies are on their toes to solve the crisis.

“Right now, they’re doing cloud seeding. There is no anticipation of an emergency right now,” he said.

Most parts of Metro Manila are experiencing water shortage due low water level in Angat Dam. DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson said that the water supply in Angat will still be good for 60 days.

The water level in the dam is expected to normalize by September. But if this prediction won’t happen, Lacierda said water concessionaires could extract water from Laguna de Bay. (Kathrina Alvarez/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)