DENR flags gov’t agencies’ high water bills
DENR flags gov’t agencies’ high water bills
DENR flags gov’t agencies’ high water bills
by Daylight Abas12 July 2023

As the El Niño phenomenon tightens its grip, the government is speeding up its water conservation drive, beginning with various national agencies, noting that their monthly water billings average roughly P10 million.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) revealed on Tuesday that several agencies have allegedly been inattentive in cleaning their premises for garbage and leaks, resulting in monthly water expenditures of P15 million to P17 million.

During a press conference, Environment Undersecretary for Integrated Environmental Science Carlos Primo David stated that the government offices with the highest water consumption were usually compounds made up of many buildings that rely on only "one mother meter" for their collective usage.

He refused to name the government agencies, claiming that "it's not public information."

The DENR's Water Resources Management Office (WRMO) issued two water conservation bulletins last week as the onset of El Nio prompted warnings of dry spells lasting until the first quarter of 2024 and the water level at Angat Dam, Metro Manila's main source of water, fell below the minimum operating level of 180 meters.

In one of the bulletins, the WRMO urged all government entities to execute water conservation measures such as having separate water meters, inspecting for leaks and malfunctioning fixtures, and shutting down the main building's valve from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Government building administrators were also advised not to use potable water for watering plants or cleaning the surroundings.

In the second advisory, the agency expanded the message to all inhabitants of Metro Manila and neighboring provinces, urging barangay officials as well as condominium and subdivision managers to reduce activities like watering lawns and washing vehicles.

According to David, the DENR has launched a campaign in collaboration with water concessionaires Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc. to install submeters in any government buildings that share a compound, even if a mother meter is already in place.

Apart from national agencies that must be mindful of their water consumption, David mentioned that barangay halls were incurring up to P100,000 in monthly water billings while having only a handful of office staff members.

He said that the DENR has begun inspecting the water connections of the government compounds with the highest billings and has discovered six instances where water leaks had mainly gone unnoticed.

The DENR is focusing its efforts on the issue in order to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2019, when the water level at Angat Dam fell below the crucial level of 160 meters, causing severe shortages in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

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