THE GOVERNMENT REGULATOR has assured that the Wawa bulk water supply project is up for final approval, Prime Metroline Infrastructure Holdings, Corp. (Prime Infra), the water company led by businessman Enrique K. Razon Jr., said on Friday.

The company said it was told by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) that the project, which is supposed to be Metro Manila’s new source of water, remains a major flagship project of the Duterte administration’s water security program.

“We are ready to move forward and have been proactively working with all stakeholders, public and private, to progress this project since 2018. Wawa is the fastest and least expensive water source development and comes at no cost to the government,” Mr. Razon said in a statement.

Prime Infra quoted MWSS Chairman Reynaldo V. Velasco as saying that the Wawa dam “is an integral part of the overall short-, medium- and long-term water flagship projects of MWSS to ensure water security.”

The project is expected to supply an additional 80 million liters per day (MLD) in 2021 and more than 500 MLD in 2025.

The company also said that the former administrator of MWSS had promised that the board of the agency would “tackle and approve” the project to help address the water supply deficit in the eastern zone of Metro Manila under the concession of Manila Water Company, Inc.

Mr. Velasco did not immediately respond when asked to confirm Prime Infra’s statement.

In the past, he had been vocal about supporting the Wawa dam project and had even asked its previous proponent to partner with Mr. Razon’s group, which is now the controlling entity. He had also backed the inclusion of Manila Water in the project.

Prime Infra quoted Mr. Velasco as saying: “We are in a catch-up mode as far as water supply source is concerned. Wawa Dam, which used to be the water source for Metro Manila before Angat Dam was completed on 1967 and became operational, has been identified by water experts as the best potential water supply source for Metro Manila.”

The Wawa bulk water supply project is a joint venture between Prime Infra and San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders and Developers Corp. of Oscar I. Violago. They signed an off-take agreement with MWSS and Manila Water on Aug. 6, 2019.

“Since the signing of the agreement, public consultations have been conducted by the MWSS Regulatory Office. These public consultations gave the public the opportunity to learn about the project details as well as the tariff impact,” Prime Infra said.

It said the changing of the guard at the MWSS contributed to the delay in the development work of the Wawa dam project. It added that final approval is awaited on the supplemental agreement that was submitted to the regulator on Sept. 13.

“It is a necessary document for the agreement on the outstanding issues on penalties, access road responsibility and metering protocol. It is the remaining document to make the project fully effective and enable the project proponent to proceed in the development work,” it said.

Prime Infra said the MWSS received on Nov. 7 the favorable opinion from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel on the remaining conditions precedent to make the project fully effective. — Victor V. Saulon