The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewarage System was right in slapping Manila Water Co. Inc. with a P1.1-billion fine for the company's failure to provide water supply 24 hours a day to its consumers in Metro Manila and Rizal province in violation of the concession agreement with the government.
But the state regulator was also remiss in its duty of looking for a new source of raw water, despite the urgent call of Manila Water in the past several years. Manila Water correctly pointed out that the development of new water sources was ultimately the responsibility of MWSS under the concession agreement.
President Rodrigo Duterte, thus, should crack the whip on the MWSS after the regulator neglected its responsibility to identify and develop a new source of raw water.
Manila Water said it had strongly and long advocated for the development of new water sources aside from Angat Dam to ensure sufficient supply as well as resiliency in case of any calamity around the facility.
Relying on a single source of water, in this case Angat Dam, is untenable because of its limited capacity compared with the rising demand in the metropolis. Angat Dam is also an aging facility and is relied to provide the irrigation requirements of farmers in Bulacan.
The MWSS was very much aware of the water supply deficiency and the increasing demand from Metro Manila consumers. Manila Water's water supply allocation from Angat Dam is no longer sufficient for the total demand of the East Zone consumers.
The company noted that its raw water allocation from Angat Dam had remained unchanged at 1,600 millions of liters per day since obtaining the concession started in 1997, when the East Zone had a population of just three-million people. Manila Water now serves almost seven-million people whose per capita consumption has significantly increased through over two decades of economic progress in Metro Manila.
The MWSS should no longer dilly-dally on the lingering water supply problem. The private sector has already offered to develop alternative sources of water to augment the supply from Angat Dam. Ranking officials of the MWSS should quit if they are not up to the task.