Despite the onset of the rainy season, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is urging Metro Manila residents to continue observing water conservation measures and recycle rain showers to help prevent further decline of the water level in Angat Dam.

“Angat Dam can still benefit from the rains falling outside its watershed if these are collected for non-essential uses such as for carwashing and flushing of toilets,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

The DENR made the call amid insufficient rain over the 62,300-hectare Angat Watershed Reservation as heavy rainfall have been observed in many parts of Metro Manila.

According to Cimatu, simple water conservation measures could help lessen the demand for Angat Dam’s water in the millions of liters.

The water in Angat Dam, which supplies 96 percent of Metro Manila’s tap water needs for its 12.8 million residents, comes from the watershed’s river basin that straddles the towns of Dona Remedios Trinidad, Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan.

“We can reduce water wastage by using only what is required. We can also collect and reuse rainwater,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu noted that the insufficient rainfall over Angat watershed is compounded by the “monsoon breaks” which PAGASA explained is a shift between weather systems that result in short breaks to no rainfall for several days or weeks.

The environment chief likewise called on local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila to prioritize the passing of an ordinance directing their constituents to observe water conservation practices.

“It is high time that the LGUs pass ordinances geared at water conservation to prevent the water problem from worsening,” Cimatu said.

He explained that these ordinances would have “immediate positive effect” to the water and food security being pushed at the national level by agencies like the DENR, the Department of Agriculture, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) and the National Irrigation Authority.

“The LGUs have proven themselves how pivotal they are to the success of national environmental programs like the Boracay and Manila Bay rehabilitation,” Cimatu said.

He added: “They (LGUs) are again being called upon to take the challenge to lead their constituents practice water conservation. We should all do our part.”

As of Tuesday (June 18), the water level of Angat Dam has further declined to 161.76 meters, which is just 1.76 meters short of its 160-meter critical level for domestic water supply.

The last time that the 160-meter mark was breached was in 2010 when the water level dipped to 157.57 meters which resulted in water rationing.

In a press briefing held Monday (June 17), NWRB Executive Director Sevillo David disclosed that they will put the dam on the Low Level Outlet (LLO) mode once the 160-meter mark is breached, which involves opening of the dam’s bottom channel.

David said test have been conducted for the turbidity of the water released from the LLO and that the results show the water quality is “manageable,” meaning its quality is fit for treatment by the two water concessioners, Maynilad and Manila Water. ###