By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said that it is not the only government agency responsible and accountable for the worsening state of water in Manila Bay and enjoined others for a “shared responsibility” in resolving wastewater treatment.
In a statement, MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco said he believes teamwork and adherence to the concept of shared responsibility will ensure the restoration of the Manila Bay waters to Class B level sea water according to the Water Classification Tables mandated under DENR Administrative Order No. 34.
“The concept of shared responsibility must be put into practice that will include responsible citizenship in disposing of garbage,” he said, issuing their side’s opinion ahead of the forthcoming senate inquiry on waste water treatment and sewerage system in Metro Manila to be led by Senator Cynthia Villar.
Poor and inefficient solid waste management as well as inadequacy of proper wastewater facilities had been identified as contributory to the worsening state of water in Manila Bay.
Earlier, Velasco said the hearing will put to rest allegations that “there is failure of implementation and enforcement of laws with respect to the provision of adequate sanitation, drainage and sewer facilities in Metro Manila”.
Villar would like to find out whether MWSS has been doing its part to comply with the Writ of Continuing Mandamus that was issued by the Supreme Court on December 18, 2008. The order directs 13 government agencies, including MWSS, to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay in their different capacities.
Under the Writ, MWSS shall submit to the Court the list of areas in Metro Manila, Rizal and Cavite that do not have the necessary wastewater treatment facilities.
The concessionaires of the MWSS were also asked to submit their plans and projects for the construction of wastewater treatment facilities and their completion period for said facilities, which shall not go beyond 2037, the end of the concession agreements.
“While MWSS and its concessionaires are constantly working to improve their services, they are faced with major challenges in their program implementation,” MWSS said.
“These challenges include availability of lots for wastewater treatment plants; bureaucratic red tape in permit acquisition; right-of-way problems that at times include the presence of illegal settlers; limited construction on streets; and unavailability of updated drainage master plan,” it added.
The other agencies involved in the Writ are Metro Manila Development Authority, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Budget and Management, among others.