Manila Water spent record P13.7 B in capex

Published March 16, 2022, 4:29 PM

by James A. Loyola

Manila Water Co. reported that it expanded capital expenditures last year by 28 percent to P13.7 billion from the record P10.7 billion spent in 2020 despite the continued challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the highest CapEx record since the privatization of water service in the East Zone in 1997,” the firm said in a statement.

In total, Manila Water has awarded 282 projects last year. These projects have been completed through collaboration with government agencies and a healthy pool of contractors, in compliance with international standards.

“It is imperative for us to focus our capital spending to meet both our water supply and sewerage service obligations,” said Manila Water President and CEO Jose Emmanuel de Dios.

He added that, “Despite the challenges,we continue to serve more than 7 million people in the East Zone with safe and reliable water supply, covering over 1.3 million households and with more than 5,000 kilometers of network pipelines.”

“For wastewater, we have invested close to P40 billion in capital expenditures over more than 20 years and will invest over P38 billion more until 2022,” De Dios disclosed.

He noted that, “Wastewater coverage in the East Zone is now over 30 percent, equivalent to 2 million people served through nearly 400 kilometers of laid sewer network.”

“This is a significant increase from only 3 percent coverage when we took over operations from MWSS in 1997. These accomplishments, in turn, would not have been possible if not for the support and guidance of MWSS,” De Dios said.

Major components of the investment include the construction of new facilities and networks to expand service coverage, rehabilitation and improvement on existing assets and facilities for both water and wastewater, compliance projects relating to biological nutrient removal (BNR) for wastewater facilities, and the implementation of interim water source projects.

These intervening water sources are critical to ensuring water availability in the coming peak demand months during summer, while major new water sources are still being built by the government. Completed sources include deep wells with a total capacity of over 100 million liters per day (MLD).

Major water system projects have also contributed to the investment such as the East Bay Water Supply System Project, which will utilize Laguna Lake as source, and the Calawis Water Supply System Project, which will treat and distribute water from the Upper Marikina Watershed.

It also includes the Marikina Portable Water Treatment Plant (PTP), which will utilize Marikina River as a water source, and the landmark Novaliches-Balara Aqueduct 4 (NBAQ4) project which entails the construction of a fourth aqueduct from the La Mesa Dam to the Balara Treatment Plants (BTPs).

This is the first infrastructure project in Metro Manila to deploy a tunnel boring machine (TBM) in an urban setting, which is currently tunnelling underneath Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, while causing no inconvenience to motorists.

These projects, along with other stopgap supply augmentation plans, help ensure water availability for the entire concession area while the government completes the construction of other major water sources for Metro Manila.

Apart from the Marikina PTP, other supply contingency and augmentation measures include the maximization of the Cardona Water Treatment Plant, which draws water from Laguna Lake and the construction of new and rehabilitation of existing deepwells.

Currently, these measures are helping keep water supply stable for Manila Water customers even during summer months, when demand increases.

Manila Water has been compliant with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ standards on environment protection through its biological nutrient removal (BNR) on wastewater projects.

These include BNR Retrofitting in East Avenue, Quezon City, BNR Granular Adsorption Media in FTI Taguig, and BNR Operational Adjustment in Olandes Marikina.

Aside from projects related to BNR compliance, major investments were also made into the construction of more wastewater system projects.

Among these are the Mandaluyong West Sewerage System, the Hinulugang Taktak Sewerage System Project with its sewage treatment plant (STP) being constructed in Antipolo City, the San Mateo-Rodriguez Sewerage System, and the North and South Pasig Sewerage System, where the Ilugin STP now on its test-run phase.