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Philippines: Manila Water Crisis

Photo from the Flickr page of rickyli99

Metro Manila, the national capital region of the Philippines, is now experiencing a water shortage crisis with millions enduring water supply rationing. Desperate for a bath, disgruntled residents have taken to breaking a water pipe in Malabon City. Filipino bloggers try to make sense of the crisis.

Blackshama's blog finds the fact this rationing is done during the rainy season worrisome.

August is historically the wettest month. Unless weather patterns change, next month may be the driest August. September is the last month of the wet season and then the dry begins. The only thing to be done is to lessen water use.

This shortage also came in the wake of the recent onslaught of the Typhoon “Basyang” (international codename: Conson). Window To my Soul is “going nuts” over the lack of water.

Wait, we do have water, btw. However, water pressure is too weak that it doesn't go up. It does not reach my room. My washroom does not have water. The faucets in it have not released a single drop since the storm [Typhoon Basyang]. So that's roughly 6 days of being waterless. I have to fetch water all the way down from the basement.

I am Hybrid Cha shares her own water shortage experience.

This is really pain for me, for all of us and I absolutely am extending my patience the farthest I could because I do not have any choice (smile!). Plates, utensils, pans and glasses unwashed, left in the kitchen sink overnight; not having a good and indulgent bath (since water arrives (arrives???) at 6 AM and leaves (leaves??? visitor it is!) around 1 PM) for work; I wanted to take a short and comfy shower (when I feel like it) but since there is no water well what can I do but endure that sticky and messy feeling. There are things that I so want to do, things that are part of my routine that I could no longer do these past few days (since Thursday evening, July 15th to be exact!) because water just would not cooperate.

Let's Go Pinoy also shares a personal experience which he thinks is connected to the water crisis.

although our faucets continue to provide our much-needed water supply, yesterday the water that was coming out was a light brown color! I thought at first it was from the dirty pail and washed it both inside and out and then after several rinses, I realized that it was the water itself. It's still that way this morning but not as brown. Because of this I didn't want to take my bath yesterday. But the heat and my stickiness from sweating got the better of me and I used the water to bathe.

Pinoy Buzz III recommends measures that the government can take to solve the water shortage problem in the long-run.

1. All buildings should be retrofitted so that it will be able to recycle the water it uses for its sinks and toilet bowls.

2. All buildings should start storing rainwater.

3. All commercial establishments and private residences must have a waste water treatment facility. Smaller establishments can opt to have a communal waste water treatment facility, larger establishments may have their own.

4. Ban the development of new golf courses and inland water resorts.

5. Start the construction of desalination plants…

6. Start the construction of water recovery facilities along the Pasig River and in Laguna de Bay.

According to the Radical's Nut, the water shortage crisis goes beyond the El Niño phenomenon and would not have been as bad “if not for structural issues related to the privatization of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) almost 13 years ago.”

Among the many promises made by the private water concessionaires and hyped by the then Ramos administration was upgrading the decrepit water system infrastructure. Such upgrade intends to substantially reduce non-revenue water (NRW, or water lost due to leaks and pilferage) and help achieve universal and 24/7 water supply for an increasing number of households. In their original concession agreement with MWSS, the private water firms promised to provide universal access by 2001.

But until today, less than 60 percent of 790,000 households in Maynilad’s service area have 24-hour water service while only 74 percent receive water at 7-pound per square inch (PSI) or stronger pressure (read here). More than half (53 percent) of water allocated to Maynilad continues to get wasted because of leaks and pilferage (read here)…

There is no available data that break down NRW into leaks and pilferage. But the continued pervasiveness of illegal connections may be explained by skyrocketing water bills due to full-cost recovery under water privatization. Since MWSS was privatized, Maynilad’s basic charge has already soared by 449 percent and Manila Water, by 845 percent. Put that in a situation of worsening job scarcity, stagnant wages and income, and rapid increases in the overall cost of living and you will get the picture.

5 comments

  • angat

    Dapat ang gobyerno itinama ang mali sa pamamlakad noon ng MWSS kung sinasabi mang hindi ito epektibo noong bago ito i privatized. Lahat ng hindi gumagawa ng tama noon dapat pinarusahan na lang para di na pamarisan.

    Ipinasa lang ng gobyerno ang sakit ng ulo sa problema na ayaw nilang harapin noon. Pa relax-relax ang MWSS habang magkatuwang sila ng mga concessionaire na pahirapan ang mga tao sa mataas na bayad at mababa pa ring kalidad ng serbisyo.

    Ngayon sabihin natin kung tama ang desisyon sa privatization, ngayon na ang mga napagsamantalahang mga tao ay walang tubig.

    Dahil sa problemang ito lalo pang magtataas ang tubig dahil sa ang extra cost na ginastos nila sa imcompetence ay babayaran pa ng mamamayan na idadagdag sa susunod na buwan sa taripa.

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  • Dale Jose C. Gozar

    FLOODING MITIGATION
    (Cheap, Quick, Easy, & Simple Solution)
    by Dale Gozar May 25, 2016

    Our society (government/church) has a tendancy to create a “Culture of Dependency”. Our people usually rely too much on government to solve all our problems:
    – poverty
    – unemployment
    – over population
    – heavy traffic
    – poor transportation
    – drug related crimes
    (murder/rape)
    – rebels & insurgency
    – climate change

    Under a culture of dependency: poverty becomes a trap, recipients get stuck, problems remains unsolved, worsen and compounds easily.

    FLOODING is one of those problems that annually paralyze businesses and work in Metro Manila and other cities/provinces. Now it’s obvious government alone is incapable of solving it and that “Lessons are not Learned” every year. We should no longer rely and expect too much from our government and just do our share to help mitigate the problem by:

    I. RAINWATER COLLECTION SYSTEM

    Primary aim is to reduce RUN-OFF to existing drainage system. Collected Rainwater (free) can be use for many purpose/services such as water for plants/garden, cleaning, flush watercloset, fire-fighting, etc.

    Preferably, people must voluntarily purchase or local/national Government must subsidize and require everyone (via City Ordinance or Law) to install Rainwater Collection System in private/public properties and directly proportionate to the size:
    1. In every Household
    2. Residential Buildings (condominium, subdivision, apartments)
    3. Institutional Compound
    (Schools, Colleges, Universities, Hospitals,
    4. Commercial establishments (Business Centers, Malls, Office Building)
    5. Recreation, Parks, and Sports Facilities (indoor or outdoor)

    Below are method and information about the basic components of harvesting rainwater. Rainwater collection system is an old technology and had many improvement over time through product innovations.

    What are the different methods to collect rainwater?

    The only thing that differs in the following methods is the scale of the system. They all follow the same principles but differ on aesthetics and actual water conservation effectiveness.

    A. RAIN BARREL/DRUM
    Rain barrel (per downspout) to capture a small amount of rainwater. This method is the most common and one that many people are familiar with. This involves installing a barrel at a gutter downspout to collect rainwater. The actual barrel may be a recycled barrel or a new commercially available rain barrel.

    Pros:
    1. Easily implemented by anyone at any residence
    2. Barrels are readily available in your community or at various stores & websites
    3. Barrels don’t take up much space so they can fit into any situation

    Cons:
    1. Capacity is generally only 50 to 100 gallons
    2. Easily overflows and wastes collection opportunities

    B. “DRY” System (big Barrel/Drum)
    A dry system rainwater collection system where the pipes dry out after a rain event. This method is a variation of a rain barrel set-up, but it involves a larger storage volume. Essentially, the collection pipe “drys” after each rain event since it empties directly into the top of the tank.

    Pros:
    1. Can store a large amount of rainwater
    2. Great for climates where rainfall happens with infrequent, larger storm events
    3. Can be inexpensive to implement
    4. Less complicated system so maintenance is easier

    Cons:
    1. The storage tank must be located next to your house

    C. “WET” System
    A wet system rainwater collection system where the pipes stay wet after a rain event. This method involves locating the collection pipes underground in order to connect multiple downspouts from different gutters. The rainwater will fill the underground piping and the water will rise in the vertical pipes until it spills into the tank. The downspouts and underground collection piping must have water-tight connections. The elevation of the tank inlet must be below the lowest gutter on the house.

    Pros:
    1. The ability to collect from your entire collection surface
    2. The ability to collect from multiple gutters and downspouts
    3. The tank can be located away from your house

    Cons:
    1. More expensive to implement due to underground piping
    2. Sufficient difference between gutters and tank inlet must be available

    1 – Collection surface
    2 – Collection Gutters
    3 – Gutter Protection
    4 – Rain Head Inlet Filter
    5 – First-flush Diverter
    6 – Inlet Screen
    7 – Collection Cistern
    8 – Overflow Port
    9 – Auto-fill / Automatic Top-up Mechanism
    10 – Pump
    11 – Water Filter
    12 – 0Water Level Indicator

  • Dale Jose C. Gozar

    REDUCING IMPERVIOUS SURFACE in our cities.

    Most of our cities are now covered with concrete – Impervious or Waterproof surfaces. These are mainly pavements, roads, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots that are covered by impenetrable materials such as asphalt, concrete, brick, stone, and rooftops. Soils compacted by urban development are also highly impervious. Thus, it seal the soil surface, eliminating rainwater infiltration and natural groundwater recharge.

    A. CONCRETE TILE PAVER
    This is to allow Rainwater to fall on the surface of the ground and percolates into the soil. It can also help to reduce over-speeding of vehicles resulting to less accidents and less vehicular noise.

    To help mitigate flooding in cities, I strongly recommend installation of Concrete Tile Paver as:
    1. Pavement or Side walks
    2. Service roads
    3. Open parking facilities
    4. Private road intersection
    5. Pedestrian crossing
    6. Playgrounds, parks and recreational facilities

    B. PERVIOUS/POROUS/PERMEABLE CONCRETE surface allow rainwater (or melting snow) to infiltrate into them and percolates into soil. It eliminates ponding or stagnant water (mosquito) and creates safer surface = reduce/remove refreezing of snow into hazardous (slippery) patches of ice. This can be done by reducing fine aggregates (sand) so there are voids left between gravel, allowing water to pass through like sieve.

    To help mitigate flooding in cities, I strongly recommend convert the following concrete or asphalt surfaces into “Porous Concrete” :
    1. pavement or Side walks
    2. Service roads
    3. Open parking facilities
    4. Private road intersection
    5. Pedestrian crossing
    6. Playgrounds, parks and recreational facilities

    III. MULTI-USE DETENTION PONDS IN PARKS AND OPEN SPACES

    What is a storm water retention pond?
    A storm water retention pond is an engineered artificial body of water. Its primary function is to protect residential property from flooding by storing peak storm water flow and street run-off and releasing it into the storm sewer collection system in a controlled manner. These ponds are an important part of the City’s storm water management system.

    What recreational activities are permitted on the ponds?
    Activities such as skating, broomball and hockey are permitted during the winter months. Summer use is restricted to non-motorized boating, (i.e., paddle boats and canoes). Swimming is not recommended. If one intends to use the ponds for activities such as winter carnivals or summer events, a Special Event Permit is required.

    Vehicles are not permitted in parks or around ponds. Users will be held responsible for any damage to pathways, turf, shrubs or trees when accessing ponds in summer or winter.

    The City may for any purpose close the pond for any use for any length of time.

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