Water firms earmark investment to ensure long-term supply

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The country’s two main water concessionaires have laid down their resiliency and investment plans to beef up long-term water in light of emerging security problems, climate change and the Duterte administration’s new water source projects.

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Maynilad Water Services, Inc. is earmarking more investments for water infrastructure like reservoirs, pumping stations, and new treatment facilities to improve the water supply system in the West Zone, its concession area. Maynilad has invested some P42 billion for water projects in the last five years.

On the other hand, Manila Water Co. which supplies the East Zone is suggesting the development of the Kaliwa Dam “soon” the updating of the Metro Manila Water Supply Masterplan, and the building of more sewerage treatment facilities.

The two water concessionaires have made these disclosures during the recently held “Water Security Forum Series 4: Averting a Crisis” hosted by the environment committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines.

The water companies together with government laid out their respective disaster preparedness plans and future investments to assure consumers of water supply sustainability.

The Duterte administration’s new water source projects affecting the future water supply needs of the country and other government concerns were presented by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage (MWSS) and the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) during this fourth instalment of the water forum.

Manila Water president Ferdinand M. Dela Cruz noted during the forum that his company has reduced water system losses in the East Zone and saved 700 million liters per day.

He also noted the importance of investing in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects to prepare for the ‘Big One’.

“As we start breaching the limits of supply, we need to work together in developing the Kaliwa Dam soon, updating the Metro Manila Water Supply Masterplan, preserving the sanctity of the Concession Agreement, and ensuring a successful Rate Rebasing Exercise,” Dela Cruz explained.

Maynilad president Ramoncito Fernandez, meanwhile, identified climate change, infrastructure limitations, and rising demand for water as the emerging challenges that need immediate solutions, given the far-reaching consequences of water shortage on energy generation and food production.

According to him, both public and private sectors must promote water security by engaging stakeholders in responsible water use and exploring advanced treatment technologies to harness other water sources.

“The war on water can easily be won, as long as government and the private sector work hand-in-hand to protect our limited water resources,” said Fernandez.

The company has been building new facilities such as additional pumping stations and reservoirs to improve the water supply system’s climate change resiliency and to create redundancies in the event of a disaster.

“We need to make these investments to enhance water reliability despite the threat of climate change, infrastructure limitations and the rising demand for water due to population growth and urbanization,” Fernandez noted.

Maynilad’s La Mesa and Putatan Water Treatment Plants are currently undergoing upgrades and retrofitting to enhance treatment capacities in the face of rising turbidity levels in the raw water sources.

Maynilad is also looking into the application of advanced treatment technologies to harness other water sources, such as seawater and used water, given the urgency of meeting the water supply needs of a growing population.The necessity to manage water resources has become increasingly urgent as water demands grow with population.

“The Philippines has a national water security score of 40.4 out of 100, which means to say that much needs to be done for the country to become water secure,” said MWSS administrator Reynaldo V.Velasco.

“Water supply must be secured through additional water sources. We cannot depend solely on the Angat Dam especially when the ‘Big One’ or a 7.2 magnitude earthquake strikes,“ Velasco added, citing that MWSS is pursuing the Laiban and Kaliwa water dam projects to ensure adequate, steady and sustainable water supply for consumers in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in the next 25 to 50 years.

According to the NWRB, implementing the integrated water resources management or establishing good water governance is imperative to safeguard clean water for everyone, highlighting that the agency has already started working on a road map on water security in the context of changing climate and globalization.

“Water is everybody’s business. We all have the shared responsibility of taking care of our water resources,” NWRB executive director David Jr. pointed out.

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