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Water shortage seen by 2021 without Laguna Lake project

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By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-editor

MANILA WATER Co., Inc. has raised the alarm over a possible water shortage starting in 2021 if it fails to get approval for the construction of a new water source from Laguna Lake ahead of the target completion of the Kaliwa dam in Quezon province by 2023.

Geodino V. Carpio, Manila Water chief executive officer, said 2023 is “too late” for the company as supply from Angat barely meets the demand for water within its east zone concession area.

“Today, we’re using all from Angat,” he said during a briefing on Wednesday in Quezon City. He was referring to the dam that supplies about 96% of Metro Manila’s water requirement.

Angat dam delivers about 4,000 million liters per day (MLD), of which 40% or 1,600 is allocated to Manila Water. The rest or 2,400 MLD is supplied to the west zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, Inc.

State agency Metro Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) regulates what is allocated to the concessionaires.




“Demand has increased beyond Angat’s capacity to provide,” Mr. Carpio said.

ALSO READ: MWSS says no imminent water shortage

Mr. Carpio said Manila Water’s demand requirement has already exceeded the 1,600 MLD allocation, and has reached 1,650 MLD as of the first quarter. The deficiency is sourced from La Mesa dam, which is not meant to impound water for distribution.

“We are worried because the rate rebasing is about to be finished,” he said, referring to the new base rate being applied for by the company for the 2018-2022 regulatory period, wherein new water source projects have been proposed. The company expects an “indicative” rate in the coming days.

Mr. Carpio said Manila Water expects to complete this year a 100-MLD water source in Rizal province that should cover the current deficiency and the increase in demand for the next two years until 2020.

“If we stretch it, we may have sufficient water by 2021,” he said.

But between 2021 and 2023, Manila Water will be short, assuming that Kaliwa dam will indeed be finished by 2023, he said. But the Philippines has yet to close a financing deal with China through an official development assistance.

“For two years, we will be short,” Mr. Carpio said.

He said Manila Water remains hopeful that MWSS would give its approval for the company’s Laguna Lake water supply system project, which will provide 250 MLD to complement the ongoing Rizal province water supply improvement project.

The Laguna Lake project can serve 1.446 million consumers, while the Rizal project can serve around 788,000. The annual demand growth within Manila Water’s concession is placed at 40 to 50 MLD.

“We are now proposing to MWSS, let us do the Laguna Lake project,” Mr. Carpio said, adding that he would know by the rate rebasing public consultation on Sept. 5 whether it had been rejected by the regulator.

For consumers, he said the cost of the P13.07-billion Laguna Lake project is expected at P52 per cubic meters, and P73 per cubic meter for the P15-billion Kaliwa dam.

Kaliwa dam is located along the Kaliwa River in the towns of General Nakar and Infanta, Quezon province. It is expected to provide 600 MLD, of which half will be allocated for Manila Water.

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