City looks into water supply for El Niño

A Metro Pacific Iloilo Water tanker augments supply in Iloilo City. The local government met with water distributors in suppliers to ensure ample supply during the prolonged dry season. (MPIW photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas on Wednesday said the city government is also readying for the effects of the El Niño phenomenon, particularly in the water supply.

Treñas met with the city’s water distribution utilities, Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW) and South Balibago Waterworks (SBW), and bulk water supplier FLO Water

He was told that SBW’s supply would be returning soon after acquiring two new pumps on Wednesday, May 10, to replace the ones in its water treatment plant in Pototan town which were damaged by the recent flooding.

MPIW, meanwhile, mentioned that they had been finalizing the development of deep wells, which may provide an additional 5 million liters per day (MLD) of water.

The distributor said its non-revenue water (NRW) or supply lost to leaks and pilferage is at 40 percent, higher than the industry standard of 20 to 24 percent.

Treñas said the NRW should be lowered to 15 percent.

The Asian Development Bank defines non-revenue water as the difference between the amount of water injected into the distribution system and the amount of water billed to consumers.

FLO Water shared that they have available 10 MLD which were obtained from PrimeWater, another bulk water supplier, but they have yet to discuss how to utilize the supply.

Treñas said he expects to meet with MPIW’s joint venture parent Metro Pacific Water, whose officials will arrive from Manila, and FLO Water to discuss how to use the 10 MLD supply. One suggestion is to connect FLO Water’s line from Pototan town to the city.

“Right now, from FLO Water, only 20 MLD reaches the city because it’s the limit of their capacity. There was 10 [MLD] lost because the [PrimeWater] line was also lost. There are issues with the line and who would build [the line], and the price given to the distributor,” Treñas said.

“[MPIW] may be amenable [to accept the 10 MLD] but there are issues being talked about. Those are financial matters that we are [not privy to]. That’s already between the two [MPIW and FLO Water] and those are business matters that they have to discuss among themselves. Whoever would build the pipes going to the city [and] how much is the price, I will only be the bridge so they can talk, but that is their business,” he added.

The mayor warned that if there would be no additional water supply by June, the city is facing rotational water schedules or rationing.

He has ordered to use treated greywater, or domestic wastewater from sinks, showers, baths, washing machines, or dishwashers, and rainwater from cisterns in the La Paz Plaza, in watering plants in public plazas and sidewalks.

The city government is also pushing to acquire a new water tanker to augment the existing water supply.

He expressed openness to the possibility of reopening deep wells which had been closed due to contamination which had caused an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis and cholera last year.

“We have to prepare because El Niño is being seen to last up until March [2024], so that’s 10 months. My worry is the farmers. For us, water is also important to take a bath or clean our plates and utensils. But just the same, we have to look for ways,” the mayor added.