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Duterte seeks Singapore’s help in addressing water supply issues

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday sought Singapore’s expertise in the desalination process amid the water supply crisis gripping parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province.

Duterte talked about the matter during the presentation of credentials by Singapore’s new ambassador to the Philippines Gerard Ho Wei Hong in Malacañang.

“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,” the President told Ho.

“I know Israel and Singapore [have] the best operating machines about desalination,” he added.

Ho responded by affirming the “very strong and excellent” bilateral relations between  Philippines and Singapore.

Singapore has three desalination plants, the latest of which opened in June last year.

According to the city-state’s Public Utilities Board, the three desalination plants with a combined capacity of 130 million gallons a day can meet up to 30 percent of Singapore’s current water demand.

Two more desalination plants will be operational by next year.

Like the Philippines, Singapore is surrounded by sea.

Israel, meanwhile, will reportedly construct two new desalination plants.

A draft executive order that will address the country’s water issues is being finalized  by several government agencies and will be submitted to the President for his input and approval.

Among the provisions of the proposed EO is the reconstitution of the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) into a body that will be responsible for policy, direction-setting, and the integration of all government efforts pertaining to water.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the NWRB may be placed under the supervision of the Office of the President (OP).

Duterte earlier ordered 150 days' worth of water from Angat Dam in Bulacan to be released to ensure supply to those affected by the water shortage.

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Reynaldo Velasco then assured that the MWSS and the concessionaires —Manila Water, Maynilad and Bulacan Bulk Water—will do their best to solve the water shortage in 150 days or around five months.

Manila Water, the east zone concessionaire, has been implementing water interruptions in several areas in Metro Manila and Rizal to ensure that water supply can last until June or the rainy season. Due to the effects of the El Niño phenomenon, lesser rainfall is expected in the coming months.

Residential areas, schools, and even hospitals have been affected by the water service interruptions.

Manila Water has already apologized for the water shortage and expressed openness to  implementing adjustments on its customers' water bills. —LDF, GMA News

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