By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor
STATE AGENCY Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is asking Metro Manila’s two water concessionaire to build a P3.2-billion tunnel that will convey water from Angat dam at times when the capital’s sole water source has excess capacity.
“Ang cost niyan (The cost of that) is about P3.2 billion,” MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco said in a press conference during the Asia Water Council general assembly in Makati City on Wednesday.
With the available boring equipment for a separate project, he noted constructing the tunnel could result in savings of about 25-30%.
“If we save about P750 million, then it will be a savings for the tariff,” he said, referring to the cost that will eventually be recovered from consumers of concessionaires Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Co., Inc.
Sought for comment, MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Lester N. Ty said the project is a risk that the two companies must be willing to take as his regulatory office does not pre-approve projects.
“Hindi pa siya nalagay sa business plan. Kaya hindi nga siya kasama sa rate-rebasing last time (It’s not included in the business plan. That’s why it was not included in the last rate-rebasing). So it’s not yet priced in,” he said.
“Kaya pinapagawa sa kanila, sila pinapabayad, kaya sinabi sa akin [by Mr. Velasco] to be reasonable kasi risky sa kanila ’yon. They’re going to do a project that I haven’t approved. So may risk na ma-disallow (That’s why they are being asked to do it, they will pay for it, that’s why Mr. Velasco told me to be reasonable because it’s risky. There is a risk that it will be disallowed),” Mr. Ty said.
Mr. Velasco said MWSS had so far completed two tunnels that would accommodate 2,400 millions of liters per day (MLD) more.
“We are now asking Manila Water and Maynilad to partner to ensure that tunnel five which will have another 2,400 MLD will be already started or should be started as soon as possible and we will complement this with aqueduct seven, which has already undergone the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) approval and feasibility study,” he said.
The existing water system has three tunnels and six aqueducts connected from Angat dam. A fourth tunnel is nearing completion.
“With these two projects, I hope that within two years or hopefully less, we should be able to bring in another 2,400 MLD through the La Mesa portal. If this will happen, we hope that we can now save the water that we are throwing away during rainy days from Angat and hopefully bring this to La Mesa dam,” he added.
Ferdinand M. dela Cruz, Manila Water president and chief executive officer, the Ayala-led firm is willing to participate even in developing water sources, which is a function of MWSS.
“We’re supportive of that plan,” he said. “[Mr. Velasco] was referring to the common purpose facility, which is in charge of the conveyance. The aqueduct is another infra[structure]. What that will do is give the ability to convey more water from Angat because right now [it’s] physically constricted.”
Ramoncito S. Fernandez, Maynilad president and chief executive officer, said the concession agreement with MWSS calls for a common purpose facility.
“We’re working it out kasi katatapos lang nila nung isa nilang tunnel (We’re working it out because MWSS has just completed one of its tunnels). We are being requested to execute it, sunod na kaagad para matapos siya kaagad (and immediately follow up for it to be completed immediately) in one-and-a-half to two years,” he said.
The new tunnel is meant to increase water supply ahead of the completion by 2023 of the Kaliwa dam, the P12.1-billion project that is expected to secure the water needs of Metro Manila in the coming years.
Kaliwa dam — or the New Centennial Water Supply Project — will be built along the Kaliwa River in the towns of General Nakar and Infanta, Quezon province. It is expected to provide 600 MLD, adding to the existing supply of 4,132 MLD and enough to meet a demand of a little less than 4,000 by 2020, based on past estimates.
Aside from Kaliwa dam, Mr. Velasco said he had encouraged Manila Water to partner with Prime Infra, the proponent of the Wawa water source. He said he had asked the two to sit down and find possible ways to jointly cooperate in the immediate production of 500 MLD.