MANILA -- Malacañang said Wednesday that there is no need to place Metro Manila under state of calamity to address water crisis.

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

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"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.

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

Also, most parts of Metro Manila are experiencing water shortage due low water level in Angat Dam.

Earlier, 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 Gabriela Representative Luzviminda 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 said.

Lacierda 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 (DPWH) 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.

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.

On Tuesday, Singson blamed the National Power Corporation (Napocor) for mismanaging the release of water from the Angat Dam when Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng hit the country last year.

Napocor's response

However, Napocor said in a statement that they tried to implement measures to make sure the dam will have enough water in anticipation of the El Niño period and denied reports over spilling for the period December 1-15, 2009 from Angat Dam, which caused the current water shortage in Metro Manila.

"In anticipation of an extended summer as forecasted by our weather bureau, we have maintained the water in the dam above the normal operational level by more than two meters, from 210 meters above sea level (masl) to 212 masl, as of December 2009," the agency reiterated.

"Also, our total outflows were only almost 93 million cubic meters (MCM) from December 1-15, 2009; which is even lower than the more than 108 MCM requirement of both the National Irrigation Administration and Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System for the same period," it added.

Moreover, Napocor asserted that all releases for the period are all within dam operation protocols and regulatory requirements.

"There are no releases made for that period that are outside the allocations given by the National Water Resources Board (NWRB). There were no extra releases, contrary to the allegations," Napocor added.

The Angat Dam is a multi-purpose facility constructed to address the potable drinking water requirements of Metro Manila and adjacent provinces, irrigation farmlands in nearby provinces, and augment power supply for the Luzon Grid.

"In the order of things, power generation is the least priority in the use of the water of Angat Dam. Its primary use is to provide potable drinking water for Metro Manila, and secondary use is to provide irrigation water to farmlands in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, among others," Napocor said.

Allocation for the water in the dam is determined by the NWRB.

"We strictly follow the allocations provided by the NWRB," the Napocor statement added.

Lawmakers back recycling

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives backed 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 Quimbo (second district, Marikina) told Sun.Star.

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."

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. (Kathrina Alvarez/Jill Beltran/MSN/Sunnex)