By Victor V. Saulon Sub-Editor

THE Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is asking the help of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in solving the low sewerage coverage in Metro Manila, which the agency’s head described as a problem worse than the Boracay environmental issue.

“MWSS is in talks right now with the DENR to try to find a way to assist, to convince or find a solution to increase the sewerage coverage of Metro Manila,” Patrick Lester N. Ty, MWSS chief regulator, told reporters.

Mr. Ty said Metro Manila’s two water concessionaires Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Co. are having a hard time convincing residents to have their septic tanks cleaned. The companies offer desludging services without extra cost to their customers.

He also said the water concessionaires are having a problem with local government units (LGUs) in obtaining the necessary permits to build sewer lines and sewage treatment plants.

“MWSS is part of a committee that is talking to the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) and other government agencies to assist the concessionaires as fast as possible,” he said, adding that he was hopeful that the public would understand the inconvenience caused by construction activities.

“The second problem is the public at large,” he said, noting that many are not connected to sewer lines.

“Every five years, our concessionaires will desludge our septic tanks,” he said.

“But one-third of the people asked, they decline or waive this service. They don’t want to allow the concessionaires to desludge because it’s inconvenient for them,” he said.

Sometimes, residents build structures over their septic tanks, making desludging difficult, Mr. Ty said.

He said the contents of septic tanks go into the ground water and other water ways, polluting our water and contaminating the environment.

Mr. Ty said MWSS is coordinating with the DILG and LGUs to urge them to pass ordinances that will force the public to have their septic tanks desludge.

“If the LGU is lax, like what happened in Boracay, that’s the problem we will be facing,” he said.