Wawa bulk water deal awaits more regulatory approvals

Published May 28, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

After getting the green light from the Board of Trustees of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project proposal of port magnate Enrique Razon and businessman Oscar Violago is still short of two more regulatory approvals before it can proceed.

The Wawa Bulk Water Supply project will be done under a private off take arrangement between WawaJVCO and Manila Water Company, Inc.

WawaJVCO is the joint venture company of Razon’s Prime Infra and Violago’s San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders and Developers Group (SLRBD).

In a statement, Guillaume Lucci, Prime Infra president and COO, said the company now looks forward to finalizing the “remaining issues” on the on-going review of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and the MWSS-Regulatory Office to accelerate project’s execution.

Razon, Prime Infra chairman and CEO, says: “We thank the decisive leadership of MWSS for the approval of the project. We assure them of our commitment to help in solving the current water crisis. We are excited to working with their concessionaire in addressing this potentially recurring problem.”

The Wawa Bulk Water Supply project is expected to provide at least 80 million litres per day (MLD) to the East Zone concession starting year 2021 and up to 500 MLD by year 2025.

While Prime Infra didn’t disclose the project cost, the company said that the tariff impact of Wawa Bulk Water Supply project is expected to be very minimal since the total systems cost of the project will be cost-effective compared to other water source options because of the strategic location of the water supply source within the east zone concession.

The approval of MWSS Board of Trustees on the project comes with the resolution of the long-standing legal issues between the MWSS and Violago, which has prevented for over 10 years the implementation of the bulk water supply project.

Violago, who is involved in the construction of hydropower plants, began proposing to convert Wawa Watershed in Montalban, Rizal into a dam in the early 1990s. In 1993, he claimed he obtained the water rights to develop the Wawa Dam Project but MWSS and the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) still won’t allow him to push through with it.

He even claimed that Manila Water “wants to grab” the project from him.

In a statement, SLRB President and CEO Anthony Jude C. Violago thanked the MWSS Board and their partners for “finding a win-win conclusion to this project.”

“After 20 years, my father’s vision will finally come to fruition. This is now all water under the bridge, which will now flow to Metro Manila residents, solving the current water problems,” the younger Violago said.

The Wawa Bulk Water Supply project is one of the medium-term projects MWSS brought to the table after Manila Water’s water shortage issue sparked public outrage in March.

To recall, as Metro Manila’s major dams run out of water a few months ago, Manila Water had to implement low to no water supply interruption, affecting 1.2 million of its customers.

Because of that, Manila Water faced multiple fines, including a self-imposed penalty. All in all, the issue costed the Ayala-led company nearly P2 billion.