The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $123.3-million loan for a new water tunnel to beef up Manila’s water supply and lower the risk of shortages in the face of rising demand from a growing population.
The loan proceeds will fund a fourth tunnel in the Angat transmission system managed by state-owned Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
“The Angat transmission system provides more than 95 percent of Manila’s water but its existing tunnels are up to 75 years old and in poor condition, leaving the metropolitan area highly vulnerable to serious supply disruptions,” Paul van Klaveren, senior urban development specialist of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said in a statement on Monday.
“This assistance will allow the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System to build a fourth tunnel, clearing the way for it to upgrade and modernize its other existing tunnels and aqueducts to maximize and strengthen supplies,” he added.
The proposed tunnel is more than 6 kilometers long and about 4 meters in terms of inner circumference.
MWSS is a government-owned corporation which supplies raw water for Manila, with two private concessionaires handling the distribution ̶-Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc.
The demand for water has grown to about 40 cubic meters a second in Manila, according to MWSS, noting that Maynilad and Manila Water were able to meet the demand by reducing “non-revenue water” or water that is lost due to system faults.
Non-revenue water has been reduced to 10 percent to 40 percent in 2015 from more than 60 percent rate in 2002.
With the demand increasing by the second, MWSS plans to develop a major new water source to be operational by end-2021.
Building a new water tunnel will help spruce up the rehabilitation of the Angat system, particularly since a new aqueduct needs a tunnel, according to MWSS. A new aqueduct in place helps to minimize a potential breakdown in water supply.
The Manila-based lender said that about 90 percent of the population now has round-the-clock water access since the privatization of water distribution in 1997.
Since 1974, the bank has extended financing support to 10 water projects in Metro Manila, three of which are for the Angat supply system.