MANILA WATER Company, Inc. is set to increase the availability of water to 99% of its customer base after the installation of 18 line boosters for elevated areas as one of the technical measures to solve the water shortage in Metro Manila’s east concession zone.

“Other technical solutions that Manila Water is implementing to further increase water availability in the remaining pocket areas with intermittent water supply include valving and network adjustments, looping and interconnection of lines as well as other after-the-meter rectifications,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

It qualified, however, that water availability at 99% means customers are receiving supply for eight to 12 hours at least at ground floor level.

The technical solutions are meant to extend water supply to elevated areas and those farthest from its central distribution system.

Line boosters are pumps installed along the pipeline to boost the pressure to a higher elevation and convey the water where it is needed.

Manila Water said that, to date, six line boosters had been installed in Quezon City, two in Makati City and Mandaluyong City, three in Taguig City, four in Marikina City, as well as additional three in Pasay City and Rizal province.

“More line boosters are scheduled for installation within the coming weeks at various locations in Quezon City and in Antipolo City, Binangonan and Rodriguez in Rizal,” the company said.

It said as of April 7, the company had been able to reduce the supply deficit to 75 million liters per day (MLD) from 150 MLD with the operation of its Cardona water treatment plant, which now delivers 31 MLD.

More supply comes from newly operated deep wells, which produce about 32 MLD and cross-border flows from west zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, Inc. amounting to 12 MLD.

Separately, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) would not confirm reports that a rebate recommendation for Manila Water customers hit by the shortage has been finalized.

On March 20, Presidential Spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said President Rodrigo R. Duterte had met with officials of MWSS and the water concessionaires and had threatened to terminate their concession contracts amid the water shortage in Metro Manila’s east zone. He said the entities were told to submit a report by April 7.

MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Lester N. Ty said in a mobile phone message on Tuesday that he had submitted a recommendation to the MWSS corporate office, but declined to give details. “I submitted it to the board last week. They were supposed to submit it already,” he said.

Mr. Ty said MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco had been tasked by the agency’s board of trustees to announce and explain the recommendation.

“If I comment on it, it may appear that it’s the RO (regulatory office) and not the board that approved it,” he said, referring to the distinction between his office and the MWSS corporate office, which is under Mr. Velasco.

Mr. Velasco could not be reached by phone on Tuesday.

In an interview last month, Mr. Ty said his office could implement a rebate to compensate Manila Water customers hit by the shortage. The company later announced a waiver of the water bill of its severely affected customers and a waiver of the minimum charge for the rest of its 6.8 million customers.

He said that a rebate could be implemented by June or July, or way ahead of the discussions for the fifth rate-rebasing period. The current fourth regulatory period of the water concessionaire started in 2018 and will end in 2022. — Victor V. Saulon