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Government vows swift action to ease El Niño-induced water shortage

The Palace said it would take “swift action” to address the water crisis in Metro Manila even as the weather bureau called on consumers to cut their consumption in view of the critical supply level at La Mesa Dam.

The water elevation at the dam, which supplies Metro Manila, was at its lowest level at 68.93 meters on Monday, below its critical level of 69 meters above sea level, a hydrologist at the weather bureau, Jayson Bayusa, said.

To avoid severe dwindling of water at the dam due to a lack of rainfall brought about by the El Niño phenomenon, consumers must learn to conserve water at their end, he said.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government would likely conduct cloud seeding above areas affected by the dry spell, but provided no further details.

On Friday, the water level at the La Mesa Dam reached its lowest point in 12 years.

With the decrease in water level, several parts of Metro Manila have experienced unannounced water service interruptions over the weekend. Manila Water, the eastern Metro Manila water provider, said the situation prompted them to make “operational adjustments.”

Manila Water apologized for the sudden interruption in service but urged the public to use water “more responsibly and wisely” in light of the El Niño.

The company then released a list of affected areas which would have little to no water supply in the coming days, covering Makati, Marikina, Pasig, Pateros, Taguig, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, City of San Juan, and Angono and Antipolo, Rizal.

Jeric Sevilla, Manila Water head for corporate communications, said the normal flow of water supply may be felt by residents beginning Tuesday as the agency’s technical teams continue to work on the improvement of its supply system.

Panelo said the government would improve on giving people water interruption advisories ahead of time.

The La Mesa Dam is part of the important Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system.

The weather bureau’s Bayusa said other major dams are not yet at the critical level.

Water supply at La Mesa easily drops due to high demand during the dry months, he said.

“We can ease the impact of a poor supply at the dam by May or June, during which there will be rains,” he said.

Senator Cynthia Villar, meanwhile, said the government has already adopted measures to address the impact that the El Niño would have on agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture has also been coordinating with the Air Force for cloud seeding.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the ill effects of the El Niño phenomenon are still manageable.

NDRRMC spokesperson Edgar Posadas said several local government units have already presented their respective resolutions to address the problems brought by the El Niño in their area.

He reminded the LGUs that they can ask for funding assistance from the NDRRMC.

The Department of Health warned the public against the dangers of heatstroke, a common health condition associated with rising temperatures during the dry season.

READ: Manila Water limits supply

“It would be better to drink a lot of water to avoid heatstroke. It is important for children or elderly relatives to give them water, that they’ll be encouraged to drink water,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a radio interview on Monday.

The DOH defined heatstroke as a medical emergency in which the body temperature reaches very high levels, 40 degrees Celsius and up, due to constant heat exposure.

It is usually in combination with dehydration which can damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles. It may also lead to severe complications and even death if untreated.

Duque said senior citizens and babies are the usual victims of heatstroke, as he advised the public not to stay outdoors between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.―hours when the sun is at its hottest. 

The DOH advised the public to wear thin, loose and light-colored clothes, to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks; and to apply ice packs to armpits, groin, and neck to cool down one’s body temperature. With PNA

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READ: NGCP declares ‘yellow alert’ over tight supply in Luzon

READ: Philippine-wide alert as El Niño sears North Luzon, Cotabato

Topics: La Mesa Dam , Jayson Bayusa , El Niño phenomenon , Salvador Panelo , Manila Water
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