Officials discuss water security, sewerage plans

MANILA -- Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco reiterated anew the need for teamwork among all stakeholders and strategic planning to insure water security and to further address challenges posed by inadequate safe water, access to improved sanitation, and even climate change.

Speaking before participants of the 25th Pacific Water and Wastewater Association (PWWA) International Conference and Exhibition in Tacloban City Friday, Velasco assured the public of a continuing and fruitful partnership with its concessionaires Maynilad, Manila Water, and Bulacan Bulk with one collective mission to insure water security and sustainability, as well as to improve water services and sewerage coverage in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Velasco, who discussed Water Security and Sustainability, shared the stage at the Philwater plenary session with its two concessionaires -- Manila Water President and CEO Ferdinand M. dela Cruz who talked about Wastewater Management, and Maynilad President Ramoncito S. Fernandez who tackled Enhancing Resiliency of Water Operations in the Face of Climate Change.

Velasco told conference delegates of the various infrastructure projects being undertaken by the MWSS and its three concessionaires to ensure water security and sustainability under President Rodrigo Duterte's Build, Build, Build program of government, as well as its future plans and programs as he assured that there is no looming water crisis in the near future in Metro Manila.

Velasco made the statement as the country already falls below the international water stress threshold of 1,700 cubic meters per year and fast approaching the water scarcity threshold of 1,000 cubic meters per year.

Using the 2018 population of 107 million against the fresh water supply of 146 billion cubic meters, per capita availability stands at 1,553 cubic meters per year. The water-availability-per-capita situation in the country represents the country's water security issue.

Among the projects he discussed were the Angat security projects, Bulacan Bulk Water Supply project, and the newly approved Kaliwa Dam project.

Velasco also unveiled his new pet projects -- the proposed Angat, Bayabas and Candaba water source projects or A-B-C projects which have a potential of producing a combined 1,950 million liters per day capacity to complement the existing capacity of Angat Dam.

These projects could address the increasing demand for water in the next 10, 20 and even 50 years, something this humble representation together with the MWSS Board of Trustees and our three concessionaires can all be proud of, as part of our legacy to water security and sustainability, Velasco added.

At the conference, Velasco acknowledged the overall water security projects of Manila Water with its new Laguna Lake East Bay Projects and Maynilad's Putatan, which both extract water from Laguna Bay using reverse osmosis technology to augment the 96-percent water source from Angat dam with the two concessionaires pouring in the necessary investments over the next five years.

Corollary to the water security programs is sewerage and wastewater management, which according to Velasco is where the next challenge will be since at this point, there is only 14 percent overall sewerage coverage.

By the end of the concession term in 2037, 100 percent of households will be provided with water treatment coverage, a commitment from both concessionaires.

As part of Maynilad's PHP30.6-billion wastewater management program from 2018 to 2022, Maynilad intends to build four new sewerage treatment plants to serve 2.1 million people.

When completed, the new facilities will have a combined treatment capacity of about 120 million cubic meters per year. These will increase sewerage coverage in the West Zone to 26 percent once these projects are completed in 2022.

On the other hand, Manila Water is undertaking the Rizal Province Water Supply Improvement Project (RPWSIP), a water treatment facility capable of treating initially up to 50 million liters per day of potable water, transmission mainlines and distribution lines.

The company has a total of 50 desludging tanks and two septage treatment facilities, one of which is the largest in Asia; possessing 40 treatment plants complying with the regulatory requirements and effluent standards; and having water treatment capacities of 310 million liters per day which avert 8,329 tons of organic pollutants into the rivers.

The PWWA, the umbrella organization of government and private agencies and individuals in water supply development whose objective is to help provide Filipinos with safe, adequate and affordable drinking water, organizes the annual conference. (PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency