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MWSS fine-tunes disaster preparedness program

MWSS fine-tunes disaster preparedness program

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The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System is continuously fine-tuning its disaster preparedness program for the Big One in the wake of the 6.1 magnitude temblor that rocked Metro Manila and neighboring provinces last month.

MWSS administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco said K-Water and its local partner San Miguel Corporation recognized that the Angat Dam and Dyke Strengthening Project was a big step toward ensuring the structural integrity of Angat Dam to withstand a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

The MWSS is fast-tracking projects under the new water security roadmap, including the 150 million liters per day Putatan (2019), 100 MLD Cardona (2019), 188 MLD Sumag (2020), 50 MLD Rizal Wellfield (2020), 80 MLD Calawis Wawa (2021), 100 MLD Putatan 3 (2022), and 250 MLD Lower Ipo.

There is also the 600 MLD Kaliwa Dam project, which is expected to be completed in 2023.

Being eyed as medium-term water source projects, from 2023 to 2027, are the 420 MLD Wawa Dam, 250 MLD East Bay, 350 MLD Bayabas Dam, 550 MLD Angat Norzagaray Phase 2, 750 MLD Sierra Madre, and 1,800 MLD Kanan River Phase 1.

To complement the New Water Security Roadmap, the MWSS said it needed to fast-track the completion of Aqueduct 6 and Tunnel 4, both expected to be in operation by January 2020.

Immediately after the earthquake last month, Velasco said he dispatched MWSS teams of engineers to inspect the Angat, Ipo, and La Mesa dams for damage.

“Despite the challenges and difficulties that may arise, we have to be aggressive in putting on track our disaster preparedness program, as well as in developing dependable alternative new water sources since 96 percent is supplied by Angat Dam. It is not the difficulties that will cripple us in our pursuit, but the way we view our difficulties and our choice of priorities,” Velasco said.

To ensure the structural integrity of the Angat Dam, Velasco said major projects had been undertaken, such as Flood Forecasting and Warning System on Dam Operation amounting to P260.91 million; and Flood Control Protection Works (downstream of Angat) amounting to P292.39 million which were completed at a total cost of PHP553.30 million under the Angat Dam and Dyke Strengthening Project (ADDSP).

Velasco also underscored the need to closely collaborate with all stakeholders, especially with its concessionaires Manila Water, Maynilad, and Bulacan Bulk Water, pointing out that the water shortage experienced in the East Zone last month demonstrated how teamwork could address a crisis.

“Cross-border sharing between Maynilad and Manila Water was among the short-term solutions to the water crisis,” Velasco said. “The water crisis also resulted in the activation of deep wells to augment dwindling water supply.”

Velasco stressed the need for a pragmatic and doable water security plan to cushion the effect of an earthquake that could potentially damage Angat Dam, the primary water source for Metro Manila and the provinces of Rizal and Cavite.

“The need for a new water security plan is now a major concern of the Philippine government and let me emphasize that it’s only under the leadership of President Duterte that honest to goodness, pragmatic and doable water supply projects are being put in place. More so for the Philippines with growth centers like Metro Manila that greatly depend on one water source like Angat Dam,” Velasco said.

In a joint meeting between the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and Earthquake Resiliency Team for the Water Sector, a total of 109 existing deep wells were identified that could be reactivated in case of disaster which are operated by Manila Water and Maynilad.

To ensure clean water, regular maintenance check-up is to be conducted, Velasco pointed out.

A draft Memorandum of Agreement between MWSS through the concessionaires and the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) mandates the periodic monitoring of water quality.

In case of a disaster, there are nine available mobile water treatment plants, 43 static water tanks, and 79 mobile water tankers that can be deployed. There are also 64 water reservoirs with a total capacity of 1,222 MLD.

The Maynilad facility reservoirs have a 711 MLD capacity while that of Manila Water is 511 MLD.

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