THE ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) has okayed a $126-million (P6.31 billion) loan to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) for a project that aims to improve and secure Metro Manila’s water supply.

In a statement on Friday, the ADB said it approved a loan for the construction of a 15-kilometer water transmission pipeline that will benefit nearly 13 million Metro Manila residents.

The additional financing for the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project is meant to boost the water system’s downstream transmission capacity and is part of the Philippine government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure development program.

The funding is part of the MWSS’s efforts to rehabilitate the Umiray-Angat-Ipo dam system, where 90% of Metro Manila’s water supply is sourced.

The aqueduct is projected to increase the system’s water transfer capacity to 66 cubic meters per second by 2025, higher from 50 cubic meters per second in 2019.

The ADB said it will also let MWSS retire its two oldest aqueducts and repair others through 2032.

The new pipeline, with a 3.6 meter diameter, will have a welded steel concrete-coated pipe and will be equipped with cutting-edge technology that allows it to withstand magnitude 7.2 earthquakes.

“The project will reduce the risk of a system breakdown and increase the resiliency of Metro Manila’s water supply. In addition, it will further enhance MWSS’s capacity to operate and maintain the system’s water tunnels and aqueducts and raise public awareness of water conservation,” the ADB said.

ADB Southeast Asia Department Urban Development and Water Division Director Vijay Padmanabhan said climate change is making annual rainfall unpredictable which in turn puts pressure on water resource use.

“The Philippine government is increasing investments in clean infrastructure for environmentally sustainable water resource management across the country. Through this project, ADB is helping the Philippines secure Metro Manila’s water supply,” Mr. Padmanabhan said.

The ADB said it also expects the project to provide stimulus for domestic material suppliers and increased demand for construction jobs when construction starts this year.

The $126-million loan also supplements ongoing ADB financing to MWSS, which was funding for the construction of 6.3-kilometer earthquake-resilient upstream water tunnel approved in 2016.

The ADB said the tunnel’s expected completion date will be in June, three months ahead of schedule.

“Since 1974, we have supported more than a dozen Metro Manila water projects, which, in addition to the current loan, includes four other loans supporting the Angat supply system,” the ADB said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave