A Trip to Maynilad’s Water Treatment Facility and Raw Water Sources – Getting To Know More About Our Water

I didn't pass this chance when I was invited by Maynilad to join a whole day adult field trip to Angat and Ipo Dams and their La Mesa wa...

I didn't pass this chance when I was invited by Maynilad to join a whole day adult field trip to Angat and Ipo Dams and their La Mesa water treatment facilities. I felt like I have to know the reason myself why we have water shortages in Metro Manila.  I know many of you also experience the same.  Our water supply used to get cut off daily beginning 4pm until 5am the following day.

First stop was the Angat Dam, which is being managed by the Angat Hydropower Corporation, where we had a short discussion on Metro Manila’s Raw Water Source.  I learned that 91% of Maynilad’s raw water supply comes from Angat Dam which is located in Norzagaray Bulacan.  The remaining 9% comes from Laguna Lake.  The Angat Dam serves these main purposes: Power Generation, Irrigation, and Domestic Water Supply through the MWSS.  I also learned that the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) is the government agency responsible for allocation of water supply for consumption and irrigation.  The normal allocation for MWSS is 48 cubic meters per second (cms) and is shared among residents of Metro Manila and the nearby provinces of Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan.

Visting Angat Dam and Ipo Dam
We visited Angat Dam following the discussion to see for ourselves the water level as reported in the news.  It’s TRUE, it’s lower than ideal.  I saw that it’s still below expected levels to meet demands of Metro Manila. This is due to scarce rainfall last year, thus NWRB reduced the raw water allocation to 42 cms, from 48cms, for the water concessionaires in Metro Manila, including Maynilad. This is the reason why we experienced daily water service interruptions.  Maynilad was forced to rotate the limited supply allocated by NWRB so that all of its customers will have water, even for just a few hours, daily.
The reduced raw water allocation which was implemented by NWRB is a temporary solution to ensure that there will still be enough water by the time the summer months are here! Basically, they’re trying to preserve the remaining water in the dam until the rains come to replenish it.
We also went to Ipo Dam, which is where the raw water flows downward from Angat Dam and eventually to the Novaliches Portal where the water is divided between Maynilad (West Zone concession) and Manila Water (East Zone concession). 

Ipo Dam played a big role in augmenting the supply shortfall from Angat, allowing Maynilad to suspend the daily water interruptions sometime in August and September 2019.  Although much smaller than Angat Dam and not intended for water storage, the Ipo Dam also receives runoffs from the watersheds. So as long as it is kept full, it can help augment the reduced allocation from Angat Dam.
La Mesa Water Treatment Plant
Maynilad’s water treatment facilities follow very strict standards and continue to operate optimally and efficiently to ensure that we are supplied with clean water every single day.  I appreciated this all the more when we visited the La Mesa Water Treatment Plant 2.
It was discussed to us that the raw water from Angat Dam goes through a multi-stage treatment process that includes the following:

  • Screening – water passes through screens to remove foreign objects (leaves, grass for example)
  • Rapid Mixing – Chemicals such as chlorine are added to further remove other tiny particles/solids.
  • Flocculation – Raw water is stirred so the small clusters of suspended solids will collide and form into large particles called “flocs”
  • Sedimentation – Flocs when they get heavier settle at the bottom of the basin.
  • Filtration- Water from sedimentation basins is filtered through dual-media filters that trap the flocs as water flows down through them.
  • Post Treatment – Chlorine and lime may be added to disinfect water making it safe for consumers and also correcting the pH or acidity levels of the water.

Daily Water Service Interruptions
To look at the brighter side of it, the water service interruptions taught me these things:

  • Appreciation of water, thus making efforts to conserve it. 
  • Habit-forming for us in the household – working on a schedule or routine teaches discipline.  Kids ensure their used lunch kits are washed before the water supply gets cut off.  People in the household ensure they do their major water-dependent activities on time. 
  • Thoughtful gestures – family members now are mindful in making sure bins or pails are always filled so there may be water for others not yet at home when water supply is already cut.  
True it may be not convenient not to have water at certain hours of the day, but limiting usage if it’s for the greater good is better for me – than to totally lose it.  Summer is coming which means water demand and consumption will be greater.

As per Maynilad, as long as the raw water allocation from Angat Dam is below normal, daily service interruptions will be in effect.  In fact, just recently, the NWRB increased allocation to 46 cms—still less than the normal 48 cms, but higher than the previous 42 cms. Maynilad was consequently been able to lift the daily supply interruptions, or isolate it to off-peak hours for some areas. This will be the case until end of March, then the water allocation for succeeding months might be reduced again, depending on how fast the water level in Angat Dam goes down.

Thankfully, Maynilad is doing something to help alleviate the impact of another possible reduced raw water supply allocation:

  • Optimizing its Putatan Water Treatment Plant 1 and Commissioning Plant 2, which both get raw water from Laguna Lake
  • Reactivating deep wells.
  • Sustaining reduction of water losses.
  • Purchasing of modular treatment plants that will tap rivers in Cavite.
  • Deploying mobile water tankers and stationary water tanks.
  • Conducting cloud-seeding operations.

Maynilad also shared that MWSS is currently working on the development of an alternative raw water source to Angat Dam. This is the long-term solution to our water situation.  While this is not yet materializing, as consumers, we are encouraged to use water responsibly.  Simple measures in responsible usage go a long way.
Thank you so much Maynilad for inviting us to visit your water treatment facilities, for bringing us to Angat and Ipo Dams, for patiently educating us about the process of bringing water to our households from its raw sources, and for the solutions you come up in ensuring we will have water to drink, bathe with, and wash and clean things.  The enriching trip definitely made me appreciate water and sparked me to become a lot more mindful than I already am in using and conserving it.  As a responsible mom and citizen, I really will do my part in using water responsibly.

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