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El Niño Task Force cites need for Metro Manila residents to conserve water

MANILA, Jan. 30 –- The El Niño Task Force assigned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to find ways to prevent a water crisis is now coordinating the country’s response to the unusually dry weather expected for the first half of the year.

This was announced Saturday by Manila Water Company (MWC) spokesman Jeric Sevilla who said the task force is doing its best to respond to the dry season which is already felt in many parts of the country.

“We are projecting that if there is an extended dry spell, our water allocation will decrease until June. If that happens, we need to be ready,” Sevilla said.

Sevilla said consumers are not yet feeling the effects of El Niño because the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has only 15 percent systems loss or non-revenue water.

“This means that the water we acquire from Angat is given to the customers,” he said.

Formed in 2001, the task force will still be chaired by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Earlier, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Director General and Secretary Conrado Limcaoco Jr. said a P 1.7- billion fund, drawn from various government agencies, will be used for cloud seeding, construction of shallow wells and distribution of organic fertilizers to rice, corn and value crops farmers.

Limcaoco said the task force will also fund the purchase and installation of fish cages for fishpond owners.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will support the initiative by implementing water management measures.

Sevilla said they have advised Metro Manila residents to conserve water as the country undergoes a dry spell that is projected to last until June.

He said Angat Dam in Bulacan usually releases four million liters of water per day or 98 percent of Metro Manila’s water supply. This has been reduced to 3.6 million liters of water per day or around 43 cubic meters per second for the National Capital Region’s daily supply.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier said the Philippines' long dry spell will last until June 2010.

Sevilla said the months from December 2009 to February 2010 are the peak months of the phenomenon.

“We are feeling the effect of El Niño with the water shortage and it might last until May or early June so we are monitoring the water supply source from Angat,” he said.

Water from the Angat Dam is used for three purposes — domestic consumption, agricultural irrigation and power generation.

When the water level at the dam is at its normal level (204 to 208 meters), the water is used for irrigation and household consumption.

Average daily household water consumption in Metro Manila is around 150 to 200 liters, which is used for cooking, drinking, and washing. (PNA) scs/JCA

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