Action promised as Manila struggles with crippling water shortages

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water shortages
Residents wait in line for water in Manila. Picture via Twitter.

Manila has been struggling with its worst water shortages in recent times, with taps dry for up to 20 hours a day and hospitals struggling.

Families have been waiting with buckets for hours to fill up from tanker trucks and some hospitals have been forced to turn away non-urgent cases.

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“I have learned to take a bath using only seven pitchers of water,” Ricardo Bergado told AFP today (Saturday, March 16) as he lined up with his buckets. “I even save the bathwater to flush our toilet.”

The shortages started hitting late last week, with some areas in the east of the capital having their domestic supplies completely cut off.

However, Manila Water Company, one of the city’s two suppliers, said it will now use rolling cut-offs spread across the city to share the pain more evenly.

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The disruption could last until July when monsoon rains are expected to replenish reservoirs, one of which is at a two-decade low.

The recent dry spell has been made worse by ageing pipelines and dams that have not kept pace with the growth of the city, which has doubled its population since 1985.

Action on water shortages 

“We need an alternative water source and we need it yesterday,” Patrick Ty, chief of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, told ABS-CBN television.

Speaking today, the Environment department said the water shortages are set to diminish given developments over the past week.

In a statement, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said additional water supply will come from the National Water Resource Board, Maynilad Water Services and the water treatment plant of Manila Water in Cardona, Rizal.

In the light of this, Mr Antiporda said: “Within next week or two, things will improve. We expect a big improvement in the situation, not go worse.” 

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