By James A. Loyola
The development work to ensure water supply delivery of 80 million liters per day (MLD) in 2021 and over 500 MLD in 2025 to address the ongoing water crisis in Metro Manila may not push through as planned.
In a statement, Prime Infra of Enrique Razon Jr. said this is because the project proponent of the Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project – WawaJVCo, the joint venture between Prime Infra and businessman Oscar Violago’s San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders Group – continues to wait for the final approval of the project from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
Over seven months ago, Manila Water Company (MWC) disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange that they entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Prime Infra for the development of the Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project, a new water source development at no cost to the government.
After a series of technical workshops and review by MWSS and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, the Offtake Agreement was signed by MWSS, MWC and WawaJVCO last August 6, 2019.
This was then followed by a series of public consultations all over East Zone from September 3 to 9, 2019 led by the MWSS Regulatory Office. Project details were presented to the public alongside the tariff impact.
“The presentation was well received by the public because it was clear that this project is the most efficient and fastest solution to the ongoing water crisis. Subsequently, the MWSS board approved the tariff,” Prime Infra said.
It noted though that, while WawaJVco on its side continues to move forward with the project on the basis that the August agreement signing was the takeoff point, at the moment, the MWSS continues to sit on the remaining approvals to finally move the project forward.
“We are ready to move forward and have been proactively working with all stakeholders, public and private, to progress this project since 2018. Wawa is the fastest and least expensive water source development and comes at no cost to the government,” said Razon.
He added that, “we are hopeful that the final steps will be taken in the coming days to finally deliver a project of critical importance to the residents of Metro Manila.”
WawaJVCo maintains that MWSS, along with the other government regulatory bodies, must act quickly to avert the recurring water crisis. At the moment, the 80 MLD milestone for 2021 is likely to face a year of delay given that over seven months was wasted waiting for the final MWSS approvals.
“Curiously the government seems to be desperate for new water sources, yet MWSS continues to drag its feet,” Razon noted.
WawaJVCo further expressed fears that, if not addressed immediately, the delivery of a new water source of this size in 2021 will be unlikely.
Just last October 24, 2019, both concessionaires started to ration water again as Metro Manila’s main water source, Angat Dam, continues to be below ideal level.
In response to the water crisis, the government is seeking to develop new water sources, and yet the MWSS’ final approval for WawaJVco continues to be delayed.