Stressing the need for collective efforts to ensure the revival of Manila Bay, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System called for the crafting of a masterplan to not only clean up the bay but also to ensure that sewerage and wastewater problems are addressed over the long term.
The MWSS is also taking to task its two concessionaires, Manila Water and Maynilad, to reengineer and fast track their roadmaps to provide waste-water treatment facilities to help arrest the deterioration of Manila Bay waters.
“We welcome all efforts of collaboration to clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay now being spearheaded by President Duterte and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu. However, I strongly recommend that a masterplan, which should have been done long time ago, is needed right now to properly address the sewerage and waste problems in Mega Manila,” said MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco.
According to Velasco, Manila Water follows a used water masterplan as approved by the MWSS/MWSS RO to full coverage until 2037 while Maynilad has its roadmap to attain 100 percent sewerage coverage in its concession area by 2037.
“Both Manila Water and Maynilad are supportive of the government’s program to rehabilitate Manila Bay,” Velasco stressed.
Maynilad contends that treating waste water is just one of the many components in rehabilitating Manila Bay.
The rehabilitation has to be viewed holistically, a view shared by Administrator Velasco. “The rehabilitation of Manila Bay waters is a shared responsibility and does not depend only on the two water concessionaires,” Velasco added. Local government units and ordinary citizens have to do their share.
Maynilad president and CEO Ramoncito Fernandez said Maynilad’s sewerage coverage in the West Zone is now at 20 percent with the completion of its 22nd wastewater facility, the Parañaque Water Reclamation Facility. By 2020, sewerage coverage will increase to 26 percent once the STPs being constructed in Valenzuela, Cavite City, and Muntinlupa are completed.
Meanwhile, Manila Water sees sewerage coverage to increase to 22 percent by 2022.
According to Manila Water, since the start of the concession, it has spent over P33 billion to fund used water infrastructure and operations and will continue to do so in the coming years. It has earmarked P36.8 billion until 2022 with a total of P115 billion until the end of the concession in 2037. Capital investment for wastewater infrastructure cost 4 -5 times more than water infrastructure.
“With wastewater infrastructure investment of more than P33 billion for the past twenty years, Manila Water has put up 40 wastewater treatment facilities and a sewer network spanning 360 kilometers to ensure proper treatment of domestic wastewater and help reverse the moribund state of our river systems,” Manila Water president Ferdinand dela Cruz said.
“Maynilad has invested P23.3 billion in wastewater projects since 2007. About P1.6 billion is required to increase sewerage coverage by 1 percent,” said Maynilad.
The construction of waste water facilities is also being slowed down by lack of land where these facilities can be situated, added to this is the problem of traffic resulting from excavation and the willingness of customers to connect to the sewerage system.
The lack of land has resulted in both concessionairesâ€™ adopting innovative designs for their treatment facilities.
For his part, MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Ty explained that the sewerage or environmental charge is not allocated for specific sewerage (or environmental protection) projects. Rather, it forms part of the overall tariff intended to reimburse Maynilad or Manila Water for their expenditures, whether for water or for wastewater.