WATER BILLS in areas served by Metro Manila’s two service concessionaires will dip starting April 1 after the regulator approved the adjustments to reflect the peso’s slight appreciation against the dollar.

“There’s going to be a rollback in the prices of water for the second quarter of 2018. This will be effective April 1,” Patrick Lester N. Ty, the chief regulator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) regulatory office, told reporters on Tuesday.

For west zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, Inc., the decrease will amount to P0.01 per cubic meter (/cu.m.), and for the east zone’s Manila Water Company, Inc., the rate cut will be P0.04/cu.m., he said.

“The reason for the rollback is the average dollar exchange rate in January 2018. The peso appreciated vis-a-vis the dollar. We all know that in February and March, the dollar actually went up; the peso depreciated,” Mr. Ty said.

“But at least the timing was okay with us for this FCDA (foreign currency differential adjustment) because we only took the average exchange rate in January.”

Mr. Ty noted that the peso-dollar exchange rate in January was at around P50.50, stronger than P51.30 previously.

Water concessionaires are allowed to recover losses or give back gains through the FCDA tariff mechanism that factors in the movements of the peso against foreign currencies. The scheme has been set because the water concessionaires pay foreign currency-denominated concession fees to the MWSS, as well as loans to fund service improvement projects that upgrade and expand water and wastewater services.

Mr. Ty said both Maynilad and Manila Water had been informed of the recommendation of the regulatory office and the subsequent approval by the MWSS board of trustees on March 8.

The net effect of the adjustment will be a P0.20 and P0.06 reduction in the monthly water bill of Manila Water and Maynilad customers using up to 10 cu.m. a month, respectively. For those using 20 cu.m., the corresponding decrease will be P0.45 for Manila Water and P0.23 for Maynilad. The reduction for 30 cu.m. customers is P0.91 for the east zone and P0.46 for the west zone.

Maynilad customers consuming 10 cu.m. will pay a total of P206.05; those using 20 cu.m., P455.52 and those with 30 cu.m. consumption, P929.86. Manila Water customers consuming 10 cu.m. will pay P138.62, those using 20 cu.m., P305.55 and those using 30 cu.m., P622.09.

Mr. Ty, who assumed office in August 2017, said one of the initiatives of the regulatory office is to raise the sewerage coverage of Metro Manila’s water concessionaires. “We are pushing them to increase their coverage at least within the next five years.”

The target sewerage coverage by 2021 for Maynilad and Manila Water is 47% and 39%, respectively. In order to achieve those targets, Maynilad and Manila Water need to invest P30.19 billion and P37.44 billion, respectively, in 2018-2022, equivalent to a third of capital expenditure in that period, Mr. Ty said. From 2018 to 2037, when full sewerage coverage is targeted, the required investment is P131.64 billion for Maynilad and P153.44 billion for Manila Water. — Victor V. Saulon