Water security is assured in Metro Manila and in neighboring provinces under the coverage area of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) for the next five years until the end of the concession agreement in 2037. This is according to MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco even as he discussed other possible water sources that would provide the additional water requirement of the MWSS service area.
“Our assurance to the public is that there will be adequate water supply in the next five years until the end of the concession agreement,” Velasco said during the maiden Real News Forum at Rolando’s Farm to Table Restaurant in Quezon City. Aside from Velasco, those who graced the Real News Forum were MWSS RO Chief Regulator Atty Patrick Ty, Maynilad’s AVP/ Corporate Communications Head Jennifer C. Rufo, and Manila Water’s Corporate Communications Head Jeric Sevilla, Jr.
According to Velasco, MWSS is looking at solving the problem of water at least initially up to 2037. MWSS has already identified projects that could be undertaken within the duration of President Duterte’s term. Potential medium-term water sources are the Laguna Lake (900 mld), Sumag River (188 mld); Tayabasan River (175 mld) and Wawa River (500 mld).
The Wawa Dam project has been proposed by Oscar Violago and involves the construction of an 82-meter dam in Montalban in the province of Rizal and could produce 500 mld to augment water coming from Angat Dam. International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) owner Enrique Razon has partnered with Violago and expressed interest in the project. The project would be undertaken under a Joint Venture Agreement or Public-Private Partnership but would still be subject to Swiss Challenge.
A feasibility study on the project is being undertaken and expected to be done in six months. Velasco said all inputs such as financial costings of those involved including the concessionaire should be considered. The MWSS Board would do an audit review of the study and it is up to the Board to approve it. Under the plan, Manila Water will buy raw water coming from the dam and treat the water to maintain its quality and standard. The quality of water would impact on how the water will cost.
Pursing the Wawa Dam project is more cost efficient and faster to implement. According to Velasco, MWSS is always guided by two things in undertaking new water source projects: “mabilis gawin at mura ang tubig.”
Aside from these potential medium-term sources, MWSS is also proposing the development of the A-B-C- projects as alternative sources of water with a combined capacity to 1,950 mld. The so-called projects include maximizing the untapped water and water wastage from Angat; the Bayabas Dam Project in Doña Remedios, Trinidad, Bulacan; and the Candaba Multi-Purpose Impounding Dam in Pampanga. All these projects can be completed within the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Manila Water’s Jeric Sevilla Jr. commended MWSS for its vision not only of having enough but having buffer supply of water as well to prepare for the burgeoning population and rapid industrialization. “The aim is to have water secure concession area of MWSS,” he said. “Manila Water is working closely with MWSS regarding the medium-term water sources,” he added.
This is the same line expressed by Maynilad Corporate Communications head Jennifer Rufo who lauded the present MWSS leadership and management for addressing water security as a lynchpin for continuing provision of adequate and potable water to serviced areas.
In the same forum, Velasco assured the concessionaires MWSS respects the concession agreement and abides by its mandate to look for new water sources.
A long-term water source project is the Kaliwa Dam has been awarded to China Energy under the Official Development Assistance scheme. It involves the design and construction of a 60-meters high dam and a 27.70 kilometers raw water conveyance tunnel. No new surface water source has been developed for over 34 years until now.