Residents of Mandaluyong City lineup for water rations from firetrucks as Manila Water continues to implement "operational adjustments."
Residents of Mandaluyong City lineup for water rations from firetrucks as Manila Water continues to implement "operational adjustments."
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
Government is partly to blame for water crisis, says MWSS
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - March 14, 2019 - 12:50pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) admitted that the government is partly to blame for the ongoing water crisis in Metro Manila and Rizal province.

MWSS chief regulator Patrick Ty said the government and water service concessionaires already forecasted water supply problem and have formulated solutions, which have been delayed.

"It's our fault. It's the government because the Kaliwa Dam, Laiban Dam has been proposed since the Marcos time and due to lot of oppositions and accommodations for the IPs, from the informal settlers, from this leftist group, church group, these projects keep on getting moved," Ty told ANC's "Headstart" Thursday morning.

Ty addded that the proposed Laiban Dam, which will get water from Kaliwa River in Tanay, Rizal, would supply more than 2,000 million liters per day (MLD).

Kaliwa Dam, on the other hand, is a smaller source as it would only serve 600 MLD.

"An immediate solution for probably the next 20 years is the Kaliwa Dam. Further than that, we need the Laiban Dam. Let’s say we’re talking about a 50-year plan we need a bigger water source than Kaliwa," Ty said.

Opposition from residents in the area have been the problem of the construction of Laiban Dam as it would displace IPs and informal settlers.

The MWSS chief also noted that they have been rushing the construction of the Kaliwa Dam during the Aquino administration but oppositions have derailed the project.

Under the Aquino administration, the Kaliwa Dam project was approved as public-private partnership but the Duterte administration decided to make it an official development project, which means that it would be funded by a foreign country.

The Kaliwa Dam project had been identified as one of the government infrastructure projects that would be financed by China through a bilateral loan agreement.

"Are you saying it's our fault? Yes, it's our fault. It's everyone's fault because we've been delaying all these projects," the MWSS chief said.

"I would say it's everyone's fault including us because we're not conserving water... These NGOs blocking all these alternative water sources, the government — we should have pushed ot more," Ty added.

Ty stressed that Metro Manila cannot solely rely on Angat Dam and needs an alternative water source.

He also noted that both Manila Water and Maynilad have been pushing for alternative water sources as early as 2007.

"Manila Water has been raising that issue since I took over in 2017 so all this is our problem and we need to fix it," Ty said, adding that if the Kaliwa Dam is not finished by 2023, the water shortage would be worse than what Metro Manila is currently experiencing.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 26, 2019 - 8:56am

An environmental watch group advises the public to conserve water all the more as parts of the country grapple with the effects of drought brought by the onset of El Niño.

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition calls on Metro Manila households to take water conservation more seriously while also calling on establishments to intensify water conservation measures.

“We join our water authorities in asking household, businesses and government institutions in Metro Manila to use water more wisely amid the declining water level in Angat, Ipo and La Mesa Dams,” Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste national coordinator, says.

She adds: “Let us all aim for zero water waste to reduce the impacts of low water supply during the summer months to the people, especially the poor, and the environment.”

The water level in La Mesa Dam is now below critical level at 68.93 meters due to the summer season and the El Niño phenomenon.

March 26, 2019 - 8:56am

Manila Water is waiving the minimum charge, which covers the first 10 cubic meters used, for its customers in response to service interruptions this month.

The waiver of the minimum charge will be reflected in the April bill, Manila Water Ferdinand Dela Cruz says in a press briefing.

He says the waiver will cost the company about P150 million.

Users who did not have water service for 24 hours for more than a week will not be billed for their water consumption in March, he also says.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System says the waiver is a "voluntary action" on the concessionaire's part and is separate from the penalties that Manila Water faces for failure to meet commitments under the concession agreement.

"As far as MWSS is concerned, we have other things under the concession agreement. That will be up to the Regulatory Office," MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco says at the same brieifing.

"Siguro wag na tayo mag-demand ng mas malaki," he says as he emphasizes the waiver by Manila Water is voluntary.

March 25, 2019 - 5:19pm

The Makati Business Club expresses its support for the efforts that the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System and Manila Water Co. are taking to alleviate the water shortage, take steps to avoid or limit a repeat, and determine accountability and responsibility.

"MBC recognizes that it is critical for the government, the concessionaires, and other stakeholders to develop long-term solutions for both supply and demand. MBC stands ready with other business organizations to gather business sector inputs and support for these efforts."

"MBC reiterates its confidence in public-private partnerships in general and, in particular, the privatization of Manila’s water system, which is considered a model around the world. Our members suffered with the rest of public, from the shortage of water in our homes and our businesses. But service is indisputably better than before privatization."

March 25, 2019 - 9:09am

Concessionaire Manila Water should give customers affected by the water shortage a fair and just adjustment to their bill, which she says government regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System must ensure, Sen. Grace Poe says.

"Manila Water can absorb it, their income will not dry up. It is a drop in their bucket of profits. An apology is best expressed monetarily," Poe says in a press statement.

Users in the East Zone, where Manila Water operates, have been dealing with hours-long service interruptions attributed to a dry spell, a lack of water sources and an increased demand as people collect water in response to the interruptions.

March 19, 2019 - 11:10am

"Tiyak may sasabunin, walang banlawan," Sen. Nancy Binay says of an ongoing Senate probe into a water shortage affecting parts of Manila and Rizal as she points out that concessionaires have conflicting explanations on what caused the service interruptions that have seen some areas without water for days.

"Lahat tayo ngayon ay nakararanas ng water shortage, at kung anu-anong dahilan na ang ating napakinggan mula sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno at concessionaires. But I'm sorry to say, their statements do not hold water," she says.

"The public is aghast at the response to the current crisis, and no explanation can wash the apparent neglect and inefficiency of those who have committed to provide us with clean water," she also says. 

March 18, 2019 - 8:41am

Rep. Lito Atienza (Buhay party-list) asks water concessionaires to submit details of its funding for water treatment and sewerage treatmant plants, saying the companies have been collecting fees for them since 1997 and have not delivered.

"Magkano po ba nakokolekta niyo sa sewage fee, environmental fee. Water should be used and reused and cannot run out," he says.

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