MANILA, Philippines – It seems that the data the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System presented in a press conference Thursday on water shortage projection by 2015 contradicts with the study of Asian Development Bank citing the water agency itself as a source, according to an advocacy group.

In a statement, Freedom from Debt Coalition said, citing ADB’s Completion Report titled “Philippines: New Water Source Development Project” which was released on July 2009, the supply deficit projection for 2015 is only 480 million liters per day (MLD), contrary to the pronouncement of MWSS Administrator Diosdado  Allado that there will be a shortage of at least 1,600 million liters per day (MLD) by the same year.

“Where is this 1,600 MLD figure coming from?” asked Milo Tanchuling, FDC secretary general. “This may be part of the MWSS’ scare tactics and disinformation campaign to justify the construction of an unacceptable large dam in Laiban, Tanay.”

FDC stressed that the issue is not about viable alternatives to $1.3-billion Laiban Dam, but the question of whether Metro Manila residents really need another source of potable water.

Tanchuling said that an examination into MWSS’ threats of “another” impending water crisis shows such scare tactics to be based on weak assumptions, stressing that “we currently have more than enough available supply for our actual basic needs.”

“The World Health Organization prescribes a basic volume consumption of 20 liters per day in order to meet water and sanitation needs, but many other groups recommend a higher volume of 50 liters per day. With a current population of 12 million people, our basic water needs require only about 600 MLD or 600,000 cubic meters per day. Even if our population grows by 50 percent come 2015, we would only require 900 MLD to meet the basic water requirements of an 18 million population. This is still well within the existing supply of 4090 MLD. Contrary to the alarmist scenario being painted by MWSS and other dam proponents, therefore, the basic water needs of the Metro Manila population do not require the Laiban Dam’s additional supply of 1900 MLD in order to be met,” explained Tanchuling.

If our basic water needs are not at risk, then why is MWSS saying that we need more water by 2015?

In a position paper, FDC explains this MWSS’ “doomsday prophesy”:

“Firstly, MWSS’ demand projections are not based solely on the domestic water needs of Metro Manila. These projections consider not only the domestic requirements of a growing population, but also take into account projected industrial and commercial water consumptions and projected increases in per capita consumption. Projected increases in industrial and commercial water demand play a significant part in MWSS’ doomsday prophesy of a water shortage. In the case of Maynilad, they are projecting an increase of roughly 178 percent in non-domestic consumption between 2005 to 2015. The premises and basis behind such projections of increased industrial and commercial demand must be properly laid down particularly in light of a global crisis where such projections of increased industrial growth seem quite at odds with reality.

“Projected increases in per capita consumption is another devil to be reckoned with when we speak of MWSS’ demand projections. Per capita consumption refers to the average water consumption of each individual in the service area. Demand projections often make use of actual per capita consumption rather than the basic per capita requirement of 50 liters per day when they speak of our water “needs.” The problem with making use of average per capita consumption in such projections is that the resulting projections often balloon the actual required volume to meet the population’s water and sanitation requirements. Average per capita consumption differs from area to area, depending on the population’s tendency to either conserve or waste the available water supply. At present, consumers in the MWSS area are estimated to consume around 100-105 liters per day, or twice the minimum requirement of 50 liters. To meet the standard consumption of MWSS’ twelve million consumers, a daily supply of 1260 MLD is therefore required, still well within the available supply of 4090 MLD.

“The difference between our average per capita consumption and the actual minimum consumption required to meet human water and sanitation requirements also shows how increased efforts on the part of the population to conserve water can actually go a long way in averting any alleged water crisis. Rather than encouraging such conservation efforts, however, the MWSS in its demand projections seeks to encourage greater consumption among the population. In their demand projections, MWSS does not simply use actual per capita consumption to estimate future water supply requirements, but instead bases such projections on “expected” increases in per capita consumption. In some studies, projections have been based on “expected” per capita consumption of as high as 150 liters, or thrice the minimum volume of 50 liters. The demand projections being touted around by the MWSS are therefore highly questionable not only with regard to the accuracy of these projections but also with regard to their clear abandonment of environmental principles that call for the conservation of finite resources such as water.” -30-

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