More Manila water shortages ahead as reservoir feeding city dries

Bulacan, Philippines (AFP) – Fishermen now pick their catch from the shallow, muddy slosh of the depleted reservoir which feeds the Philippine capital, as drought once again leaves Manila residents with up to 17-hour-a-day water shortages.

The water dropped to critical levels last week at the Angat Dam reservoir in Bulacan, north of the capital.

The dam provides 97 per cent of the city’s water and hydrologists said it will take two or three storms to adequately replenish the reservoir and restore regular supply to the capital’s 13 million people.

Tribesman living near the dam have noticed the rapid drop in water levels.

“We used to dive here to fish but… because the water is too low and muddy. Now, we just use our hands (to catch fish),” Guillermo San Jose told AFP.

The state weather bureau said weekend downpours were not enough to fill the reservoir.

“We need continuous rain. If the rains stop, the water in the dam will again run out,” hydrologist Danilo Flores told AFP.

In March, Manila was hit by its worst water shortages in years, with families waiting for hours to source water from tanker trucks and some hospitals forced to turn away non-urgent cases.

Lawmakers have launched an inquiry into the shortages.

However authorities have admitted failing to build the necessary infrastructure to meet the growing demand for water.