MWSS slaps Maynilad with P9.26 million fine in bill rebates

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The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on Wednesday fined Maynilad Water Services Inc. P9.264 million—in the form of bill rebates by November for customers in the southern part of its concession area—for “unusual and prolonged” service interruptions over several months.

MWSS chief regulator Patrick Lester Ty said the total amount of P9,264,358 will be shared by Maynilad customers who experienced service interruptions from May to July 2022.

It was the second-biggest fine imposed on Maynilad and was calculated as 25% of the cost needed to fix the issues, which involve the Putatan Water Treatment Plant (PWTP).

Ty said MWSS investigations showed Maynilad was unable to provide 24/7 water supply at a minimum pressure of 7 pounds per square inch (psi) for at least 15 days to several customers in Las Piñas City, Muntinlupa City, Parañaque City, and the Cavite province during the period.

The MWSS RO earlier this year already penalized Maynilad for unusual and prolonged service interruptions within the PWTP supply zone, equivalent to a rebate of P323 in the April bill.

“The nature, scope, and other details of the rebate program will further be discussed in October during a public information drive which will be conducted by the MWSS-RO (Regulatory Office),” Ty said in a virtual briefing.

Maynilad provides water and wastewater services to residents in most parts of the City of Manila; northern and western parts of Quezon City; western parts of Makati City; and the cities of Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Valenzuela, Muntinlupa, Navotas, and Malabon in Metro Manila.

It also serves the municipalities of Kawit, Noveleta, and Rosario, as well as the cities of Bacoor and Imus, in Cavite province.

Ty said the agency has been coordinating with Maynilad regarding the matter and has already informed the concessionaire of the penalties.

“We investigated all the excuses or basically the response of Maynilad on why there was a water service interruption. We had this investigated, we conducted interviews with customers, and we also met with representatives of Maynilad,” he said.

Ty said a public information drive is scheduled next month to ensure that affected customers are aware they are entitled to a rebate, with Maynilad given until December to submit a report on the matter.

“With regard to the service in the south, it has significantly improved. We have no reports right now of prolonged water service interruptions,” he added.

Sought for comment, Maynilad said it will comply with the order, as it explained the service interruptions for the period came after an algal bloom in Laguna Lake, which affected the water production of the Putatan plant.

“Our ability to provide uninterrupted water service during the period was severely hampered by the unprecedented extent of the algal bloom that altered the raw water quality in Laguna Lake,” it said in a separate statement sent to GMA News via mobile message.

“Algal bloom is beyond our control, being a product of both natural and industrial causes,” it added.

Maynilad also said it has been “consistently” investing in upgrades for the PWTP, but Laguna Lake should be protected from further degradation.

“We continue to work closely with all Laguna Lake stakeholders to ensure that it is protected so that the lake’s potential as a long-term supply source for drinking water can be fully realized,” it said.