By Ma. Cristina Arayata

CRITICAL LEVEL. The Angat Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan. A hydrologist called on the public, especially Metro Manila residents, to conserve water as dam levels continue to decrease. (PNA file photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – A hydrologist on Thursday called on the public, especially Metro Manila residents, to conserve water as dam levels continue to decrease.

Angat Dam, which supplies 98 percent of the potable water in Metro Manila through the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, has seen an average drop of 0.9 meter in its water level from Feb. 1 to 8, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) hydrologist Sonia Serrano said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

Serrano said most of the dams’ water levels have been on a downward trend since January.

As of Feb. 8, Angat’s water level is at 209 meters, 0.21 meter lower than the previous day; Binga is at 571.88 meters (0.62 meter lower); San Roque, at 249.04 meters (0.27 meter lower); Pantabangan, 191.56 meters (0.27 meter lower); Magat, at 182.29 meters (0.38 meter lower), and Caliraya, at 287.24 meters (0.16 meter lower).

All dams are below their normal water levels, which is 212 meters for Angat; 575 meters for Binga; 280 meters for San Roque; 221 meters for Pantabangan; 193 meters for Magat; 288 meters for Caliraya; 80.15 meters for La Mesa; and 752 meters for Ambuklao. 

However, La Mesa’s and Ambuklao’s water levels increased in the past 24 hours, with La Mesa’s level rising by 0.10 meter to 77.89 meters, and Ambuklao’s level up by 0.02 meter to750.91 meters.

Earlier in January, PAGASA said the decrease in water level of some dams is likely to continue unless the country experiences a strong tropical cyclone.

A decrease in rainfall due to El Niño is a contributing factor to the dam water level’s downward trend.

“There is a huge difference between PAGASA’s forecast rainfall in the dams in February 2024 compared to February 2023,” Serrano said.

Forecast rainfall for Angat is 72.3 mm. in February 2024, compared to 100 mm. in the same month last year; San Roque, 10.6 mm. (compared to 28.6 mm.); Pantabangan, 50.3 mm. (compared to 80.4 mm.); and Magat, 23.8 mm. (compared to 47.10 mm.).

“Turning off the faucet while brushing the teeth looks too simple, but will create a big impact when done altogether,” Serrano said.

She also advised the use of recycled water to flush toilets, and minimizing the amount of water used for showering and cleaning. (PNA)