Razon-led Prime Metroline Infrastructure Holdings, Inc. (Prime Infra) has secured the government regulator’s approval to start building the Wawa Bulk Water Supply project that can supply up to 500 million-liters-per-day (MLD) by 2025.

In a statement, Prime Infra said the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has approved the company’s project, with east zone concessionaire Manila Water Company (MWC) as the offtaker. This means that the MWC will buy the water that Prime Infra produces.

Prime Infra said the approval came after the resolution of the long-standing legal issues between the MWSS and its partner, San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders Group (SLRB) of businessman Oscar Violago.

Mr. Violago’s group was the original proponent for the project, until tycoon Enrique K. Razon, Jr. acquired the controlling stake in 2017.

The water support facility will tap Wawa Dam in Rizal, with 80 MLD seen to be delivered as early as 2021. Mr. Razon earlier said the project will cost between P15-20 billion.

The project will also lessen the east zone concessionaire’s dependence on Angat Dam, which was built in 1967 and supplies about 96% or Metro Manila’s water requirement at 4,000 MLD.

The terms of agreement for the project is now being reviewed by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and the MWSS-Regulatory Office.

Once completed, the project will boost MWC’s current water production by about 30%, according to MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco.

“It is among the priority initiatives committed to President Rodrigo Duterte in addressing the current water supply deficit which government resources cannot afford, and this is the reason why a private sector-led development of bulk supply of water was sought,” Mr. Velasco was quoted as saying in a statement.

For its part, MWC President and Chief Executive Officer Ferdinand M. Dela Cruz said the company supports MWSS’s efforts to develop new sources of water.

“As a key member of the MWSS Water Sources Development Technical Working Group (TWG), Manila Water will lend its technical and non-technical expertise in giving all the projects their best shot and in ensuring alignment of the proposals to the Approved Service Improvement Plan objectives of MWSS,” Mr. Dela Cruz said.

The Wawa Bulk Water supply project is part of the priority water source projects identified to be doable and implementable during President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration.

Other priority projects include the 150 MLD Putatan 2 water treatment plant; 100 MLD Cardona water treatment plant; 188 MLD Sumag River Diversified rsion Program; 50 MLD Rizal Wellfield; 250 MLD Lower Ipo-Unutilized water from Angat-Norzagaray Phase 1; 100 MLD Poblacion Muntinlupa Water Treatment Plant 4-Laguna Lake; and, 600 MLD Kaliwa Dam-Quezon Province. — Arra B. Francia