By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is set to complete this month the ₱7-billion Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project (AWTIP), which according to MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat will help temporarily spare Metro Manila from a serious water shortage at least until 2021.
“We are looking at other strategies to address the water woes. What are those available water supply that we can aggressively pursue within the next three years before we can realize a bigger dam, which is the Kaliwa Dam,” Salamat said in an interview with Business Bulletin.
One of these strategies, according to him, is the AWTIP, which is set for completion in the next two weeks.
The project seeks to improve the reliability and security of the raw water coming from Angat Dam through the partial rehabilitation of the transmission system from Ipo to La Mesa.
To recall, Metro Manila currently gets its water supply from the interconnected Angat-Ipo-La Mesa water system. Of this, Angat Dam supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s water needs.
AWTIP involves the construction of a new tunnel in the system, which is 4.00 meters in diameter and 6.4 kilometers in length from Ipo to Bigte in Norzagaray, Bulacan. It seeks to augment the present three tunnels connecting the Ipo to Bigte transmission route.
“With this construction, we can ensure recovery of as much as 200 mld [million liters of water per day] that we lose using old tunnels. It’s a huge improvement for our water system,” Salamat said.
“This will help us sustain our requirement for this year and next year. We can still make it through until next year,” he added.
The total cost of AWTIP is US$133.98 million or roughly about ₱7 billion, partially financed by the Philippine government and a loan obtained by MWSS.
The problem is AWTIP, among other medium-term solutions set by MWSS, is just a temporary solution to Metro Manila’s water woes, Salamat said.
“Come 2023 and 2024, we really need a new water source. Wawa Dam could help. It’s now in the hands of our concessionaire, Manila Water. They have been given the notice to proceed,” Salamat said.
“But what we need is a bigger dam, which is Kaliwa Dam, otherwise we will have a shortage by 2022 and 2023. The problem is Kaliwa Dam will not be completed until 2024,” he added.
Metro Manila — home to more than 12 million people — currently requires 4.1 mld, while Angat Dam could only release as much 4 mld. This demand is expected to increase in the next few years.
According to Salamat, the target completion for the ₱12-billion Kaliwa Dam project, which was pegged by the Duterte Administration as the top solution to Metro Manila’s water woes, has been pushed back to a later date.
He said that “to be precise in the estimate”, his agency no longer sees Kaliwa Dam being completed in 2023. The end of the Duterte Administration is 2022.
Kaliwa Dam — which will supply additional 600 million liters daily (mld) by 2023 to Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan — is going to be largely funded by the Chinese government.