Don't let taps run dry, senators say as Maynilad penalized for service interruptions

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Don't let taps run dry, senators say as Maynilad penalized for service interruptions
This photo taken on March 14, 2019 shows residents of Barangka in Manila, gathering water. Manila has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, leaving bucket-bearing families to wait hours for a fill up from tanker trucks and some hospitals to turn away less urgent cases.
AFP / Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines — Sanctions imposed by Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Regulatory Office (MWSS RO) on concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, Inc. should be a "clarion call" to water providers to always prioritize quality service, Sen. Grace Poe said.

"Access to water is a fundamental human right. It is not acceptable for our consumers to just grin and bear when taps run dry," she said in a statement shared by her media relations team. 

Poe, who chairs the Senate public services committee, said water concessionaires must have contingency plans to meet the water requirements of their consumers as the country welcomes the summer months. 

Sen. Nancy Binay meanwhile urged consumers to start saving water amid the declining levels of Angat Dam, which mainly supplies water to Metro Manila.

She also called on water concessionaires and national water agencies to look for ways to conserve water and increase supply.

One way to increase supply, she said, is through cloud seeding operations with the help of the Philippine Air Force and the state weather bureau. 

"We should explore all possibilities to increase the water level at Angat and other dams, as many depend on water for their daily activities, especially in keeping safe and healthy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic," Binay said in a statement posted on the Senate website.

The National Water Resources Board earlier said that capital may experience a water shortage by April or May amid the gradual reduction of the Angat Dam's levels.

Penalty on Maynilad

MWSS RO said Monday that Maynilad Water Services, Inc.  would be penalized for "unusual and prolonged" water service interruptions in places covered by the firm's Putatan Water Treatment Plants' (PWTP) supply zone over the course of three months.

The water interruptions in the PWTP's supply area were said to have taken place from December 2021 to February 2022. 

In a statement posted on MWSS RO's Facebook page, Chief Regulator Patrick Lester Ty said Maynilad failed to meet its obligation to ensure an unhampered daily supply of at least seven pounds per square inch minimum pressure of water to all connected customers in its service area. 

"Customers within the PWTP Supply Zone were found to have been deprived of water service obligation for at least 15 days, which adversely impacted their health and welfare," Ty said.

Because of this, Maynilad is required to issue bill rebates to affected customers covered by the PWTP's supply zone by April. 

MWSS RO said it will post more updates about the rebates of the water concessionaire's program on its official pages soon. 

In a separate statement, Maynilad said it will uphold the MWSS RO's decision.

"Maynilad will abide by the MWSS Regulatory Office’s decision to impose a penalty for the service interruptions in the southern part of our concession, which happened after the combined effect of algal blooms and prolonged turbidity in Laguna Lake hampered the water production of our Putatan Treatment Plants," Maynilad's Corporate Communications Department said. 

"We wish to inform the public that our water service in the south has already been ramping up over the last few days following improvements in the turbidity level of Laguna Lake and our treatment process interventions; hence, most of the affected customers now have uninterrupted supply," it added. 

Laguna Lake, which provides 8% of Maynilad's raw water supply, is experiencing changes in its water quality due to the impacts of climate change and the leaching of chemical pollutants, making water treatment all the more challenging, according to the company. 

"We will keep working closely with all Laguna Lake stakeholders to ensure that it is protected, and that it continues to serve as another viable, alternate long-term supply source for Metro Manila water consumers," it said. 




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