The MWSS, under a new administration, has taken on the formidable task of establishing a legacy for the benefit of 15 million Metro Manila residents.  The Water Security Legacy (WSL) project seeks to address critical concerns that for years have hindered the development of a comprehensive water development plan for MWSS.

The WSL project, which started in July 2011, intends to draw out the collaborative energies of MWSS, its two concessionaires, and other stakeholders for the common good.  The overall objective is to develop plans and strategies that will address key issues in seven focus areas, namely:

  1. Water Infrastructure Development and Resource Management Protection
  2. Sewerage and Sanitation
  3. Water Distribution Efficiency
  4. Tariff Rationalization and Business Plan Review
  5. Partnership Development
  6. Communications and Knowledge Management
  7. Organizational Excellence

The Planning Team for each focus area will identify the scope of work, roles and responsibilities, action plans, and timetables for integration and presentation to the Steering Team and top management.


I.  Water Infrastructure Development and Resource Management Protection

I.1 Water Source Development

As population increases, the demand for water supply also increases, particularly in highly urban cities like Metro Manila. This supply is further jeopardized by the occurrence of El Niño and changing rainfall patterns brought about by climate change.

Metro Manila and its suburban areas get their water supply from the Umiray-Angat-Ipo river systems located in Quezon and Bulacan provinces. The present 4,100 million liters per day (MLD) of water these sources provide are just enough to meet the demands of 13 million people in Metro Manila, Rizal and a portion of Cavite, which comprises MWSS’s service area.

With a high percentage of non-revenue water (NRW) in 2010 – about 51% for Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (MWSI) and 13% for Manila Water Company, Inc. (MWCI) – coupled with a perceived progressive economic development, the need for a new water supply source to meet the projected water demand becomes doubly important.  This new source will not only improve and ensure the sufficiency and reliability of supply for existing customers, but it will also provide extensive service coverage particularly to the urban poor.

It is important that the new source infrastructure be resilient to the impact of climate change and be able to address the issue of redundancy in the water supply source, including the 15 cubic meter per second water replacement of the water allocation of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) from Angat dam.

MWSS water security plan and initiatives:

  1. Implementation of a World Bank grant for the review, assessment, evaluation and prioritization of the identified water supply sources, which comprise the new road map of MWSS. Assessment of all existing water supply source facilities for possible enhancement and optimization
  2. Discussion with various agencies, including MWSI and MWCI, on the issues surrounding the development of a new water source, i.e., the mode of implementation, source of funds and development timeframe
  3. Coordination with UP-NEC on the demand studies commissioned by MWSI and MWCI
  4. Execution of the Comprehensive Water Supply Security Master Plan Study, funded through a USD 1 million grant from Japan International Cooperation Agency

I.2 Watershed Management and Protection

Cognizant of the various and unsynchronized initiatives on watershed management, MWSS initiated the creation of an integrated watershed management system for all the five watersheds under its watch, namely, Umiray, Angat, Ipo, La Mesa and Marikina.

MWSS organized and hosted a series of meetings among the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), MWSI, MWCI, National Power Corporation (NPC), local government units (LGUs), the 56th Infantry Brigade, Bantay Kalikasan and other non- government organizations.

The goal of watershed management is to develop a sustainable and synchronized program that continuously protects the various watersheds affecting the supply of raw water to Metro Manila.  Envisioned is a legacy program fueled by the active cooperation of and collaboration among stakeholders.

A scientific approach to watershed management and reforestation:

MWSS will soon implement new, scientific methods to reforest 900 hectares of the Ipo watershed in Norzagaray, Bulacan to ensure that Metro Manila will not be deprived of clean water in the next 15 years.

The Ipo watershed, which feeds water into the Ipo dam and the La Mesa dam, is nearly bare due to illegal logging.  To turn this situation around, MWSS will invest significant resources to properly train and equip the watershed’s foresters, improve the methods of planting trees, and acquire a light detection and ranging or LiDAR mapping system, which is capable of high-resolution topography.

Using this scientific approach, MWSS will reforest 4,500 hectares in the next four years. This will be coupled with a standardized watershed protection program, which will be applied in the management of watersheds all over the country.

On top of this, MWSS will work closely with the Dumagats, an indigenous group residing in the watershed, and Tanggol Kalikasan, a non-government organization specializing in environmental law.  Significantly, President Benigno Aquino III has agreed to deploy a contingent of soldiers from the army’s 56th infantry battalion to help protect the watershed.

II. Sewerage and Sanitation

The general objective of MWSS is to deliver effective and affordable sewerage and sanitation services to customers of the East and West concession areas.  In this respect, the primary guiding principle applied is the alignment of plans and programs with existing regulatory requirements, such as the Supreme Court ruling for the clean-up of Manila Bay, the provisions of the Clean Water Act, the concession term extension, the concessionaires’ business plans, and the various environmental regulations in force.

To remain prudent, efficient, and sustainable, a comprehensive integrated plan for each service area will be developed. It will look into the following factors: (a) adoption of appropriate sanitation and sewerage technology, materials and design standards; (b) improvement and subsequent utilization of existing facilities; (c) reduction of health impacts from exposure to wastewater; (d) improvement of the quality of affected water bodies; and (e) affordability.

The planning process involves the identification and resolution of key issues, concerns and conflicts attendant to sewerage and sanitation services. It also includes an examination of the strategies on sanitation and sewerage of both MWCI and MWSI, as well as an assessment their sewerage and sanitation facilities, on-going projects, operational constraints and proposed plans and programs.

This process is aimed at resolving issues on critical dependencies, especially with respect to other agencies, such as the Metro Manila Development Authority, LGUs, DENR, Department of Public Works and Highways and National Housing Authority. At the end of the day, it is hoped that all stakeholders will adopt an integrated approach in the setting of standards, formulation of policy statements, guidelines and agreements and identification of subsequent actions needed to meet the general objective.

III. Water Distribution Efficiency

Water Distribution System

The entire MWSS service area covers approximately 1,940 square kilometers of land area, which includes 40 cities and municipalities with a present population of approximately 16.5 million. It is divided into two zones, with MWCI operating in the East Zone and MWSI operating in the West Zone.

The present total raw water allocation is 4,147 MLD.  This volume is handled by the existing water treatment plants (WTP) and deep wells, namely: La Mesa WTP 1 and 2, Balara WTP 1 and 2, Putatan WTP and San Rafael WTP. These WTPs serve about 14.27 million people or 86.43% of the population within the MWSS service area.

The current water distribution network of the West Zone is a relatively old water system. In fact, a 1,551-kilometer portion of the primary and secondary lines has already been programmed for replacement and rehabilitation. Expansion of the primary and secondary lines by 693 kilometers is also programmed until 2017.
In the context of MWSS’s role as provider of potable water supply to Metro Manila residents, water efficiency is measured in terms of the reliability and sustainability of its water distribution system. A primary factor in bolstering the system is seen in the improvement in two major areas of concern, namely, water distribution infrastructure and NRW reduction.

The process taken by the focus group on water distribution to meet the overall objective of optimizing the water distribution capability at a minimal cost covers the following activities:

  1. Determining the existing accomplishment and development programs of both concessionaires on water distribution
  2. Reviewing the targets for water distribution
  3. Addressing issues related to water distribution
  4. Developing plans and programs for reliability and sustainability of water distribution and for meeting the required NRW level
  5. Strengthening LGU coordination and right-of-way acquisition

IV. Tariff Rationalization and Business Plan Review

The business plans of MWSI and MWCI will be assessed in relation to their targets in the preceding rate rebasing period and their new targets for the next five years.  This will form the basis for, among others, the applicable tariff rates that consumers can expect to pay for their water until 2017.

V. Partnership Development

The essence of WSL is not only to meet the specific objectives of each focused area of concern, but also to foster camaraderie and instill a spirit of cooperation and partnership building between MWSS and its stakeholders. This will ensure a more responsible, efficient and sustainable service delivery capability to 15 million consumers in Metro Manila.

VI. Communications and Knowledge Management Plan

The general objective is to be able to communicate the advocacies and output of the various focus groups and committees of the WSL project through different media channels. This may be done either individually, via the concerned focus group, or through the Communications and Knowledge Management Group (CKMG).

Available means of information dissemination are the websites of MWSS and its concessionaires, newspapers, radio and television. External agencies, such as the Philippine Communications Office (PCO) under the Office of Media Affairs of Malacañang, and public relations firms may also be tapped.

While the outputs of various groups await dissemination, the current technologies being applied by and best practices of MWSS, MWSI and MWCI are presented during CKMG special sessions. These are then placed in a repository of topics managed by MWSS. The idea is to share these topics among the participating agencies, with more detailed information available upon request to MWSS.

VII. Organizational Excellence

MWSS became the prime example for the President’s tuwid na daan legacy when it was praised recently for its turnover of PhP150 million in dividend checks to the national government.

In his speech during the GOCC Governance Day ceremony last February at Malacañan Palace, the President cited the new MWSS administration for quickly generating  pre-audit profits of PhP430 million from 2011 operations, a major turnaround from the PhP33 million deficit it reported in 2010.

President Aquino recalled that in the previous administration, 66% of a total of PhP211.5 million were doled out as bonuses to employees.  He noted that no such bonuses were given out under the new administration.