By Francis Allan L. Angelo
With the dry season likely to be prolonged by the El Niño phenomenon this year, Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW) said it has laid out measures to ensure continuous water supply for its summer operations.
These measures are being implemented to meet the demand of its 47,250 customers within Iloilo City and seven other municipalities in the province, according to MPIW Chief Operating Officer Robert Cabiles.
An El Niño is declared when sea temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific rise 0.5 °C above the long-term average. El Niño is felt strongly in the tropical eastern Pacific with warmer than average weather.
The effects of El Niño often peak during December. The name, which means “the boy”, is thought to have originated as “El Niño de Navidad” centuries ago when Peruvian fishermen named the weather phenomenon after the newborn Christ.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier upgraded its monitoring of oceanic temperatures to an El Niño Watch, which indicated that there is a high chance that El Niño would develop in the next six months.
In a briefing, PAGASA said El Niño “will likely develop in the July-August-September 2023 season and may persist until 2024.”
Cabiles said they are working closely with their suppliers and preparing measures to ensure steady supply during the possible prolonged dry spell.
“While we continue to work and coordinate closely with our Bulk Water Suppliers (BWS) on the water production level, we have already put into motion our water supply distribution and augmentation measures to help ensure that our customers will experience continuous water supply during the dry season, where demand normally spikes by 10-15 percent due to higher temperatures,” he added.
These measures include collaborating with main BWS – Flo Water Resources, and Metro Iloilo Bulk Water (MIB) – for the maximization of their 20 million liter-per-day (MLD) and 50 million liter-per-day (MLD) capacity of their water treatment plants, respectively; and implementation of strategic operational water network management to adjust its operations for an equitable water supply to customers.
Cabiles said MPIW’s Bulk Water Suppliers assured him that the water level in their water treatment plants, and designated reservoirs remain “above the minimum operational level”.
This would mean that with the sustained production of its BWS, MPIW have enough water to sustain its customers’ needs throughout the dry months of 2023.
“Our sources are not infinite and have their limits. We need to consider the possibility that once our BWS’ water sources reach critical levels, we have to adjust our network, set supply schedule schemes to equally distribute water in our service areas, install stationary water tanks and roving water tankers,” Cabiles added
On top of this summer action plans, MPIW also pursues aggressive reduction in water losses, or nonrevenue water, through the immediate repair of leaks and rehabilitation of pipes.
Water losses when recovered can increase the water supply level for distribution to customers.
To date, MPIW’s non-revenue water was reduced to 46.17% or equivalent to 34.90 MLD, from 56% which is 45.55 MLD in four years amidst the lockdowns hampering the operations during the pandemic.
MPIW urged the public “to protect our water by reporting leaks, and illegal connections and; to use water responsibly and wisely, especially during the dry months when there is more danger of the supply not being enough to meet our demands.”
The water distributor also linked up with government agencies to find more water source augmentations.
“We have been meeting with DPWH, DENR, CDRRMO, and other government agencies and local government units to always find ways to provide our customers with water supply which they can use for their daily requirement after their supply window schedule”
With appropriate conservation measures, Cabiles said “our customers and areas in other parts of the province could enjoy adequate water supply to last for the rest of the year despite the rising summer heat.”
Cabiles gave the following tips to conserve water:
-Check for plumbing leaks and report pipe leaks to MPIW;
-Use water sparingly such as when brushing teeth and washing hands;
-Use a pail and dipper instead of the shower when bathing or the hose when washing vehicles and gardening during cooler times of the day;
-Reduce the frequency of doing the laundry, and hanging clothes to dry instead of prolonging the washing machine’s spin cycle; and
-Utilize used water for other purposes such as dousing garden plants with water used in food preparation and using soapy laundry water for vehicles.
He also called on building administrators to limit water supply at certain hours of the day when there are fewer occupants and using recycled water for gardening, cleaning floors, and flushing toilets, among others.
Before the peak of the dry season, MPIW already informed their customers of plant maintenance activities by Flo Water starting March 31 to April 6. This preventive maintenance activity is also part of the summer action plans of both companies.
Cabiles said MPIW supports and collaborates with its partners, Metro Iloilo Water District and Bulk Water Suppliers for the development and implementation of short- to long-term projects to ensure the sustainability of future water supply.
For inquiries regarding water supply advisories and concerns, customers may reach MPIW via MPIW social media page or contact the following numbers +63 917 172 6749 and +63 908 818 8552.