No water shortage in Manila this year, Palace exec says

No water shortage in Manila this year, Palace exec says

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - March 4, 2021 - 4:29pm

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila is expected to have enough water during the dry season and the rest of the year, Malacañang said Thursday, as it assured the public that the government is working to finish long-term water security projects.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the status of infrastructure projects related to water supply was among the topics discussed during last Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

"According to Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) chairman and OIC (officer-in-charge) administrator Reynaldo Velasco, we expect to have a sufficient supply of water this year in Metro Manila. We won't have water shortage here in Manila," Nograles said at a press briefing.

"Be that as it may, the MWSS is taking steps to ensure that we have an adequate supply of water this summer, and it is also working to fast-track several projects that will address the water requirements of NCR (National Capital Region) in the long run," he added.

Nograles said the water security projects include the New Centennial Water Source – Kaliwa Dam Project, Long Term Water Source Development for Metro Manila Project (Upper Kaliwa and Kanan River), East Bay water Supply Project – Phase 1, East Bay Water Supply Project – Phase 2, Wawa-Calawis Water Supply Project – Phase 1, and Wawa-Calawis Water Supply Project – Phase 2. Nograles said the projects could supply a total of 1,368 million liters per day.

The tunnel boring machine for the Kaliwa Dam project is expected to arrive in May, he added.

"We know that the target date of completion is 2025 but we are hopeful about this because if this is successful and we complete it by 2025, it would supply a lot of water here in Metro Manila and this would really spell a difference in terms of water security here in NCR," he added.

SPECIAL REPORT: In the abundance of water

Concession deals

At the same press briefing, Nograles said the concession deals that the government would present to water distributors Maynilad and Manila Water are now in their "final stages."

"They (team working on the proposed concession agreements) are just doing the finishing touches and after that, the group tasked by President Duterte to negotiate or renegotiate and to finalize these new water concession agreements, they know what to do," the cabinet secretary said.

"Based on the report last night, it is almost finished... Let us wait for the next developments," he added.

In 2019, Duterte threatened to file charges against Manila Water and Maynilad, claiming their concession agreements with the government are "milking" Filipinos by the billions.

The president had alleged that the agreements were "onerous" because they prohibit the government from stopping water rate hikes and permitted concessionaires to collect damages for losses that stem from regulatory actions. Duterte has instructed the justice department and the Office of the Solicitor General to draft new deals that would be "more advantageous" to consumers.

Last May, Duterte apologized to the owners of water concessionaires for his "hurtful words" and thanked businesses for helping the government provide aid to sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

READ: Manila’s water shortage seen to persist amid blame game on supply woes

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