Water firms urged to continue hunt for source as shortage looms
In this Dec. 11, 2019 photo, MWSS administrator Emmanuel Salamat, Manila Water president Jose Rene Almendras and Manila Water COO Randolph Estrellado attend the Senate hearing on the creation of a water department.
The STAR/Mong Pintolo

Water firms urged to continue hunt for source as shortage looms

(Philstar.com) - December 12, 2019 - 3:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Grace Poe called on water concessionaires to continue looking for water sources as the country faces possible water shortage.

The senator, who heads the Senate public services committee, asked the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System to submit a list of proposals for new water sources.

Poe noted that water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad mentioned several proposals such as the expansion of the Cardona water treatment plant, extraction from the Marikina River and digging deep wells.

The MWSS is also building a new facility in the east bay of Laguna Lake to add water supply in Metro Manila.

Poe has been calling for the creation of a Water Regulatory Commission that would take charge of all water concerns.

"While we work towards the creation of a water agency, we look forward to these projects to meet immediate needs," Poe said.

She added that no single agency is accountable for all water concerns in Metro Manila and nearby areas despite issues in water management.

Over 30 government agencies manage and oversee the country's water resources, some of which have overlapping mandates, according to Poe.

"This fragmentation has had significant implications in the effective and adequate delivery of water and sanitation services," she said.

Poe also mentioned the issue of allegedly disadvantageous water concessionaire agreements, which President Rodrigo Duterte earlier called out.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian accused Manila Water and Maynilad of betraying public trust for passing on to consumers some expenses not related to water distribution.

"Even if you say that you are not public utility, your business is like public utility also. And when you talk about public utility, it involves the trust of the public," Gatchalian told Manila Water and Maynilad officials during a Senate hearing.

Sen. Imee Marcos, meanwhile, had filed a resolution to investigate water concession contracts agreements.

"Manila Water and Maynilad have not yet left a legacy even if their 20-year deadline to ensure 24-hour supply water in Metro Manila and nearby provinces draw near," Marcos said in Filipino.

MWSS had revoked the extension of the contracts of the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila following the directive of Duterte.

In 2008, the two water concessionaires were granted an extension from 2022 to 2037. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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