Asia Minute: Manila Still Dealing with Water Shortage

Mar 18, 2019

Aerial view of Manila at night | 2011
Credit Benson Kua / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

One of the largest cities in Southeast Asia has been suffering through a water crisis. While the worst of Manila’s water crisis is over, questions still remain.

City regulators in Manila told the Philippine news channel ANC over the weekend that water has now been restored to about 90-percent of residents. That still leaves tens of thousands with disruptions — and according to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, supply in many areas is still not 24 hours a day.

Some 7-million people have been dealing with water shortages in and around Manila for about a week and a half.

Trouble emerged when supplies of one of the two private companies providing water to the Philippine capital started running short of demand. Company officials blame a dry spell — part of the El Nino weather pattern. But it’s also a longer-term supply issue – the company Manila Water says population growth in the capital has outpaced its ability to keep up with demand.

The news site Rappler.com reports the company also says it has warned the government of the potential of a water crisis since 2010.

More recently, company officials say they told the government and customers ahead of time that a water shortage was likely, but that warning early this month led some residents to hoard water – making the situation even worse.

Questions about accountability will come under review this week.

Both the House and the Senate in the Philippines are about to start investigations about how the crisis happened, and how to prevent another one from taking place.