NDRRMC discusses response actions on El Niño

QUEZON CITY -- The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)'s Technical Management Group convened anew on Wednesday, March 13, at 2 pm at the NDRRMOC Conference Room in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, to discuss updates and action plans of pertinent agencies in regard to the impacts of El Niño in the country.

Presided by Civil Defense Administrator and NDRRMC Executive Director, Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad, the meeting was participated by DOST Undersecretary Renato U. Solidum and representatives from DENR-NWRB, PAGASA, DSWD, DA, DepEd, DOE, DOH, NEDA, DILG, NPC, NEA, AFP, BFP, PNP, LWUA, MMDA, COMELEC, and OCD. Private groups such as PDRF as well as water concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water, were also in attendance. OCD Regional Offices 9, 11, 12, and MIMAROPA likewise joined the meeting through teleconference.

The meeting discussed the updates on the action on the action plans of various agencies to address the threat posed by El Niño . Also discussed was the current water supply situation in Metro Manila, is still within its normal operating level at 180 meters. This entails that Angat Dam can sufficiently address Metro Manila's water requirements.

The declining of La Mesa Dam, according to MWSS, 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 day), forcing the latter to source the deficit from La Mesa Dam.

To remedy this, the Techinical Working Group composed of NWRD, MWSS, NIA, PAGASA, Manila Water, and Maynilad held a meeting this morning and commited to continue their close coordination to ensure that water supply releases from the Angat Dam are optimized. Cross border gate opening shall be done in which 50 MLD from Maynilad will be delivered to Manila. MWSS also presented its contigency plans, which include rotating water supply and pressure management, energization of Cardona Water Treatment plant on March 31, 2019 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 5 units shall come from Manila Water and 3 standby units from Maynilad) as well as water tankers from Manila Water and 3 standby units from Maynilad) as well as water tankers from Manila Water, 5 from Maynilad, and 6 from Red Cross). NWRD and MWSS shall also activate the MWSS' backup deep wells in case there is a need to augment the water supply. On this, hospitals with standy deepwell will be the priority.

NDRRMC member-agencies also presented their respective updates and action plans.

The DILG will issue a Memorandum Circular to all LGUs urging the to enact ordinances curbing illegal connections and encouraging the prudent use of water. Said ordinance shall also allow water concessionaires and water utilities to conduct emergency repair of leaks. BFP was directed to allow the free use of fire trucks for water distribution.

DSWD has standby funds amounting to P11, 834, 230,970.00 to provide family food packs as well as cash-for-work programs should they be need.

Per DA's report on the total damages and losses due to El Niño, a total of P464.3M production loss and P22.918M in volume loss were recorded as of March 8, 2019. Total area affected has reached 13,679 HA affecting 13,679 farmers in the following regions: IX, X, XI, XII, MIMAROPA, and BARMM. DA conducted field validation to assess the damages and losses and continues to monitor standing crops in areas at risk. Additionally, a total amount of P18.3 million has been released to DA regional offices for cloud seeding operations in partnership with the Philippine Air Force. After conducting joint area assessments, the cloud seeding operation is being recommended for Regions 2 and 12 to be scheduled between March 14 to May 21, 2019.

"We want to assure the public that 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 Jalad said.

NDRRMC member-agencies shall submit their respective Action Plans in regard to the impacts of El Niño to the OCD by March 15, 2019. These will be consolidated and presented at the NDRRMC Full Council Meeting on March 20, 2019.

Meantime, everyone is encourage to remain calm, avoid water wastage, and always practice sustainable water management in their respective homes. (NDRRMC)