The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System is heightening its efforts to boost water security in mega Manila amid the threat of a booming population on water supply.
MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco emphasized that the agency is pursuing the development of new dams to ensure ample water supply beyond the term of President Rodrigo Duterte. According to Velasco, the MWSS’ goal under his watch is a water secure mega Manila even amidst threats of natural calamities including a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that is capable of destroying infrastructure and flatten buildings.
Velasco said the agency is also keen on tapping core water professionals and on obtaining its ISO compliant status.
These and other developments were contained in Velasco's yearender report.
The onset of 2018 was a busy year for MWSS. It was preparing for its 140th anniversary that was launched with the opening of the Carriedo Cup Sports Fest. The sports festival aimed to foster teamwork and camaraderie among MWSS employees themselves and with employees of its concessionaires.
As part of its anniversary celebration, MWSS also launched the coffee table book From Carriedo to Balara: Celebrating 140 Years of MWSS and Ensuring Water Security. Authored by Ramos family biographer Melandrew T. Velasco, the book traces the history of the water agency and discusses the direction its is headed under the current stewards.
Another activity to celebrate the anniversary is the unveiling of the Palafox masterplan for the MWSS eco-tourism hub. A joint project of Maynilad and Manila Water in celebration of over 20 years of successful partnership with MWSS, the plan will transform the 79-hectare Balara Water Complex into a four-in-one leisure center―a water eco-tourism hub, an institutional zone, a mixed-used development, and an adventure hub.
The year just past saw the continued success of the MWSS-initiated Annual Million Tree Challenge. MWSS held the AMTC Recognition and Pledging Day that garnered over one million pledges from various government agencies. MWSS efforts to rehabilitate and protect six critical watersheds and its supports DENR’s Sustainable Development Program through the AMTC earned for MWSS recognition from DENR-NCR and the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency.
New water sources
Committed to pursue water infrastructure projects started by the previous administration, Velasco said that the Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project Phase 1 and Phase 2 is now 97-percent complete. It will be inaugurated I within the month, he said.
“Perhaps our customers are secretly nursing the fear that one day they might wake up only to find out that their taps have gone dry,” Velasco said. “Let me assure them that we have adequate supply to service the domestic and industrial needs of our customers,” he added.
MWSS has identified Laguna Lake, Sumag River, Kaliwa Dam, Wawa River-New Montalban Dam and Tayabasan River as medium-term water sources that could supply 19,63 MLD. On the hand, long-term sources are Kanan Dam and Agos Dam with a combined capacity of 6,300 MLD.
Last Nov. 20, 2018 a loan agreement between the Philippines and China was signed for the funding of the Kaliwa Dam project. It is among the priority projects of the Duterte Administration which was awarded to China Energy. It involves the design and construction of a 60-meters high dam and a 27.70 kilometers raw water conveyance tunnel.
Another water source is the Wawa River—New Montalban Dam which involves the construction of an 82-meter dam in Montalban, Rizal. A joint venture between Oscar I. Violago and Enrique K. Razon has submitted a proposal to undertake the project.
While these projects are laudable, these can only be finished after five to 20 years, way after the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term of office. Some of these projects are expensive in consideration of other social costs that could translate into higher water tariff.
As MWSS believes that adequate and clean water can be delivered faster at cheaper rates, it has proposed the development of the so-called ABC projects that can be completed from three to five years, well within the tenure of President Duterte. These projects comprise the MWSS Water Security Plan for 2018-2023 and wuld complement the existing capacity of Angat Dam.
The first of these projects is the Angat-Ipo-Norzagaray Optimization that would harness the untapped and water wastage from Angat estimated at 21 cms. A feasibility study is being undertaken on the unutilized water that could produce at least from 800 to 1,200 MLD.
The Bayabas Dam Project could produce 250 MLD corollary to the Bustos Dam. This could provide additional water to the BBWSP of the Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation that serves the province of Bulacan.
Also being proposed is the Candaba Multi-Purpose Impounding Dam that could serve as a flood control, irrigation and even eco-tourism for Pampanga. The Candaba project can easily produce 500 mld of potable water for the provinces of Pampanga, Bulacan and Tarlac and would be a good trade off with NIA for the 21,000 cms from Angat.