There will be no water shortage in the next summer on the back of short-term to medium-term security efforts of the government and its concessionaires, new Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Leonor Cleofas assured.
In a phone interview, Cleofas said there will be no water crisis during the election year in 2022, assuring that there will no longer be a repeat of the 2019 water crisis that affected mostly in the east zone concession area.
“There will be no water shortage [next year]. The last water shortage we experienced was in 2019 and now we already have a contingency plan for that. There are deep wells on standby and the Cardona plant [of Manila Water Co. Inc.] is already 100 percent operational,” Cleofas said.
“If the supply goes down in summer of next year, it will no longer result in 24/7 water interruption. The water level in Angat [over these past few months] remains very comfortable,” she added.
Right now, Metro Manila is getting 90 percent of its water needs from Angat Dam, which releases four million liters of water per day (mld). Of this, Maynilad Water Services Inc. gets an allocation of about 2,400 mld, while Manila Water gets the remaining 1,600 mld.
In 2019, the concession area served by Manila Water faced a water shortage after the listed utility firm saw its reserve water from La Mesa Dam depleted. The shortage resulted in water service interruption that lasted days and affected as many as 1.2 million households.
For next year, Cleofas is confident that Metro Manila’s water supply is “sustained”.
Cleofas is the first woman to become a full-fledged MWSS administrator, replacing General Reynaldo Velasco who stepped down as chairman and OIC administrator to run for an elective office. Her nomination as administrator was just recently confirmed during a recent MWSS Board of Trustees meeting.
Prior to this position, Cleofas held a number of senior operational and business roles in MWSS until she retired last May as deputy administrator for engineering and technical operations group.
In an earlier report, Cleofas told Business Bulletin that one of her priorities as the new MWSS Administrator would be the implementation of the administration’s water security plan.
On top of her list is to get the controversial P12-billion Kaliwa Dam, pegged by the Duterte administration as its top solution to Metro Manila’s water woes, running.
To be constructed by China Energy Engineering Corp. (CEEC) based on an official development assistance (ODA) deal between China and the Philippines, the Kaliwa dam project will have a capacity to treat as much as 600 mld. The project traverses the provinces of Rizal and Quezon.
Aside from this, Cleofas is also banking on other medium-term projects either to be constructed or being constructed by Manila Water and Maynilad.
Right now, Manila Water is awaiting the water supply that will be supplied to it by the Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project–Tayabasan Multi-Basin System, which would be able to treat 80 mld. WawaJVCo is the joint venture between port magnate Enrique Razon’s Prime Infra and businessman Oscar Violago’s San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders Group. Just earlier this year, Razon was appointed chairman, president, and CEO of Manila Water after his company, Trident Water, invested P10.7 billion in the formerly Ayala-led water utility firm.
The first set of approvals of the Wawa dam project was fast-tracked in 2019 after Manila Water faced a water crisis. It was also at the time when Razon secured a deal to buy shares from the water utility firm.
Meanwhile, Manila Water is also awaiting approvals for the P14-billion Laguna Lake East Bay project.
As for Maynilad, the company is now constructing its P10-billion Poblacion Water Treatment Plant, which is part of the company’s medium-term plans to produce additional supply so it can meet the growing water demand within its concession.
Designed to produce 150 mld of potable water, Maynilad’s new treatment facility will primarily serve Cavite areas, and also other areas south of the West Zone concession.