State regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) broke its silence over the delayed Wawa Dam project as it guaranteed yesterday an approval amid the continuing water supply shortage in Metro Manila.
No less than MWSS chairman Reynaldo Velasco gave the assurance to Prime Infra of tycoon Enrique Razon as he stressed that the Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project remains a major flagship project of the Duterte administration.
According to Velasco, the MWSS Board is set to tackle and approve the Wawa Dam project as part of the government efforts to address water supply shortage in Metro Manila, particularly in the eastern zone.
For his part, Razon stressed Prime Infra’s relentless efforts to pursue the project since 2018 without any cost on the part of the government.
“We are ready to move forward and have been proactively working with all stakeholders, public and private, to progress this project since 2018,” said Razon.
“Wawa is the fastest and least expensive water source development and comes at no cost to the government,” he added.
The Wawa Dam project will supply an additional 80 million liters per day (MLD) in 2021 and over 500 MLD in 2025.
The WawaJVCO, MWSS and Manila Water Company (MWC), which services the eastern zone, have already signed an offtake agreement last 6 August.
“The Wawa Dam is an integral part of the overall short-, medium- and long-term water flagship projects of MWSS to ensure water security,” Velasco was quoted as saying in a press statement issued by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), also owned by Razon.
“We are in a catch-up mode as far as water supply source is concerned. Wawa Dam, which used to be the water source for Metro Manila before Angat Dam was completed on 1967 and became operational, has been identified by water experts as the best potential water supply source for Metro Manila,” Velasco added.
Daily Tribune has been reporting on the delayed implementation of the Wawa Dam project despite efforts by WawaJVCO, a joint venture of Razon’s Prime Infra and Oscar Violago’s San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders Group, the project proponent.
Another positive development was the MWSS on Thursday receiving a favorable opinion from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel on meeting the remaining conditions to make the project fully effective.
This leaves only one major issue for the full effectiveness of the project and to enable the proponent to proceed in the development work — the approval of a supplemental agreement which was submitted to the MWSS last 13 September.
The supplemental agreement is necessary to address issues on penalties, access road responsibility and metering protocol.
Since the signing of the agreement, public consultations have been conducted by the MWSS Regulatory Office, which gave the public the opportunity to learn about the project details as well as the tariff impact.
However, the changing of officials at the MWSS has contributed to the delay in the development work of the Wawa Dam project.
Currently, both Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services Inc. are imposing water interruption ranging from four to 18 hours as previously announced due to the decreasing water level at Angat Dam.
MWSS should step up
Relatedly, MWC head of Corporate Communications Jeric Sevilla said even if they are ready to construct new water sources for a more stable supply, they “can only do so much” while waiting for the final approval by MWSS.
“We are currently implementing measures to cushion the shortage in (water) supply. Unless we have a new source, water interruption could still be experienced until summer of next year,” Sevilla told Daily Tribune.
He also noted that the water shortage could get worse if Angat Dam does not reach its ideal level of 210 to 212 meters by end of 2019.
In a recent congressional hearing, two members of the House of Representatives chided the MWSS for “failure to ensure uninterrupted and, adequate supply and distribution of water as provided by Republic Act 62344.”
With Maria Romero