THE regulatory office of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said on Monday that it is probing the prolonged water service interruptions by Maynilad Water Services, Inc.

“The investigation is being conducted primarily to determine whether there is a ground to declare Maynilad to have failed contractually on its service obligations, and to impose the appropriate penalties on the concessionaire,” the regulator said in a statement.

The MWSS Regulatory Office (RO) is spearheading the investigation of Maynilad’s Putatan water treatment plant’s (PWTP) supply zone located in Muntinlupa.

The plant is the first water treatment facility that taps into Laguna Lake as an alternative water source to Angat Dam.

“According to Maynilad, the reduced water production at the PWTP is caused by the prolonged high algal count and sustained high raw water turbidity in the Laguna Lake,” the regulator said.

“Considering the corrective actions and long-term solutions being taken at the PWTP since the second quarter of 2021, the MWSS is expecting the PWTP to be operating at its maximum design of 300 millions of liter per day (MLD) and Maynilad to be complying with its service obligation of providing all customers with an uninterrupted supply of potable water at 7 pounds per square inch (psi) minimum pressure,” it added.

The MWSS RO served Maynilad a “notice to explain” from Dec. 6 to 22 and Dec. 27 to Jan. 15.

On Jan. 21, it issued another notice asking the company to explain the reasons for the interruptions and its plan of action to remedy the situation.

In response, Maynilad said in a statement that the water service interruptions are due to unforeseen weather disturbances.

It said water production from Laguna Lake had been affected by the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan “that has been pushing unusual amounts of sediment toward our Putatan treatment plants.”

“The resulting turbid water needs more processing before being released to our customers. Also, increased nutrients in the lake have been promoting the growth of algae that block the intake structure of our treatment facilities,” said Maynilad, which serves Metro Manila’s west zone.

“We are taking short and long-term measures to address these concerns like intensifying filtration to get rid of the debris. Unfortunately, these extra interventions result in reduced water production, hence, the temporary rotating supply interruption. Meanwhile, we have been supplementing the supply of potable water through our mobile water tankers and stationary water tanks in several areas,” it added.

The water concessionaire said it is building a third treatment plant in Muntinlupa that will add another 150 MLD upon its completion in 2023.

“We apologize for the supply interruptions. We are doing our best to mitigate the effects on our customers of these natural and man-made causes. We will cooperate with our regulators to make sure all these issues are properly resolved soonest with the least inconvenience to the public,” the company added.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson