By Madelaine Miraflor
Laguna Lake is now boosting the water supply of East Zone concessionaire Manila Water Company, Inc., which continues to draw the flak from its customers for implementing recently a low to no-water supply interruptions in its concession areas.
In a statement, Manila Water said that its Cardona Water Treatment Plant (WTP) has already begun distributing up to 24 million liters of water per day (MLD) drawn from Laguna Lake to barangays in Binangonan, Angono, Baras and Jalajala, all in Rizal province.
This was the first time in more than 40 years that Metro Manila and neighboring Rizal and Cavite provinces tap water outside Angat Dam, which opened operations in 1967. Since then, Angat Dam was the sole water source for 96 percent of Metro Manila, Rizal, and Cavite.
Angat Dam is connected to Ipo and La Mesa Dam. West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, Inc. only draws water from Angat and Ipo.
The Cardona WTP was constructed to augment water supply to East Zone concession area while alternative major water sources are being developed. Its construction began in March 2016 and is expected to be completed by August this year after having been delayed for several months.
The opening of Cardona WTP, as well as Manila Water’s cross border sharing agreement with Maynilad, are just part of the measures implemented by the Ayala-led company to address its lack of supply, which prompted it to recently implement the low to no-water supply interruptions within its concession areas.
The supply interruptions, which affected 1.2 million of 6 million Manila Water customers for several days, have put the company under intense public scrutiny, with both Senate and House of Representatives now investigating the issue.
Earlier, Manila Water Chief Operating Officer Geodino Carpio said had the Cardona WTP became operational in December, just as originally planned, the company’s service supply disruptions wouldn’t be as bad as what it had implemented in the past days.
“We had programmed plans to reduce the dependence on the La Mesa Reserve like taking water from the Laguna Lake through our Cardona Water Treatment Plant, re-activation of decommissioned deep wells, developing new deep well sources but we were met with technical issues and implementation delays,” Manila Water president and CEO Ferdinand Dela Cruz told the congressional hearing.
Once fully online, the Cardona WTP will provide 24/7 water supply to 788,000 residents of Taytay, Angono, Binangonan, Cardona, Morong, Baras, Tanay, Pililia, and Jalajala, all in Rizal province.
The plan of Manila Water is to have the facility contributing as much as 50 MLD to the company’s water supply by the end of this month. By August, the company should be able to fully utilize the plant at 100 MLD capacity.
Manila Water explained that since it is getting water from Laguna Lake, the Cardona WTP employs a more rigorous and complex treatment process and types of equipment compared to other existing water treatment plants because of the diverse quality of water from the lake.
The process includes treatment for suspended solids, organic matter, algae, and dissolved solids.
Another water source
Another possible water source is the Sumag River Diversion Tunnel Project in Quezon province, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said as he has sought the completion of the project to help resolve the water crisis in Metro Manila.
He made the call during the House Committee on Public Accounts’ recent briefing on the performance of concerned agencies on water management, particularly in ensuring an uninterrupted and adequate supply and distribution of potable water.
Suarez, who had earlier opposed the diversion tunnel’s construction, said it is about time to complete the project, which shall supplement the water coming from Umiray River going to the Angat Reservoir, and will increase the supply to the Maynilad and Manila Water.
Long-term solution pressed
Meanwhile, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the largest umbrella of business organizations in the country, on Thursday called for urgent short- and long-term solutions to the water shortage Metro Manila and other parts of the country are experiencing.
“The shortage we are experiencing now is obviously a cause for alarm,” said Alegria Sibal Limjoco, president of PCCI, adding that it is not only hurting consumers but could also affect the country’s competitiveness standing, particularly investors’ interest because water is an important input to the industry.
“We are already seeing that the demand for clean water has exceeded the rate of replenishment from existing sources. And unless we develop other sources while slowing down our demand for water, we are faced with dire consequences that could have a negative impact on our goals to achieve industrialization and economic transformation,” Limjoco stated. (With reports from Charissa L. Atienza and Bernie Cahiles Magkilat)