The Philippines seeking S'pore's advice on solving severe water shortage

The worst water shortage in a while.

Zhangxin Zheng | March 21, 2019, 02:40 AM

The hot weather in Singapore over the past few weeks has been leaving people in a constant state of perspiration.

While the weather in Singapore is still tolerable, the Philippines has had to deal with more extreme dry weather.

Water crisis

Over six million people living in or near Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines, have been affected by a severe water shortage recently.

How bad is it exactly?

The capital, with more than 13 million people, has been rationing water.

Water supply has been cut off for six to 21 hours every day.

A district has lived with no water supply for eight days.

Shortage of basic supply

Toilets in some shopping malls are closed and fire hydrants could run dry.

One hospital has to shorten surgical procedures, while another has stopped providing water to the wards so as to sustain 70 dialysis machines in it.

People have been making frantic purchases of pails and containers to store water.

This has, by far, been the worst water crisis the Filipinos have faced in the recent decade.

Seek advice from Singapore

The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has since met with Gerard Ho, the new Singapore ambassador to Manila, on March 19, 2019.

Ho met with Duterte to present his credentials to the leader.

In the midst of the water crisis, Duterte shared with Ho his interest to seek Singapore's advice in solving the problem.

Duterte said:

“We need a lot of advice from Singapore and I’m sure those advice will go a long way to help us solve our problem, especially water."

He also shared with Ho his interest in Singapore's desalination expertise as the Philippines is surrounded by seas, just like Singapore.

Duterte also said:

"I know Israel and Singapore (have) the best operating (desalination) machines."

Singapore's fourth national tap

Desalinated water is Singapore's fourth national tap.

Singapore currently has three desalination plants and will be building another two more by 2020.

Desalinated water is expected to meet up to 30 percent of Singapore's water demand by 2060.

Despite Dutere's interest, desalination plants are a pricey solution for the Philippines.

What led to this water crisis?

The water crisis is not just a ramification of the extreme weather.

Part of Metro Manila's water supply has been privatised by a company called Manila Water that draws water from Angat Dam, a dam located north of the capital.

Over the years, the demand for water in the capital has outgrown what Angat Dam can supply.

This has compelled Manila Water to draw water from another dam, La Mesa Dam.

The water level of La Mesa dam has recently plunged to the lowest it has been in the past two decades due to the extreme dry spell.

The Filippino government put the blame on Manila Water for this water crisis.

However, the company revealed that the government has been delaying its request to build more water facilities, which included a new dam funded by China.

Top photo collage from ABS-CBN News screenshot and Manila Bulletin