MWSS approves Wawa project

Wawa dam in Rodriguez, Rizal. (KP Zilabbo)

The Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project will allow Manila Water Company (MWC) to supply its Metro Manila concession area with at least 80 million liters of water per day (MLD) to eastern Metro Manila by 2021 and 500 MLD by 2025.

Officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) revealed this as they announced the approval of the project by the MWSS Board of Trustees during its meetings last 9 and 22 May 2019.

Prime Infra, the infrastructure company led by business tycoon Enrique Razon, and the Ayala-led MWC are undertaking the Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project.

The Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project approval comes with the resolution of the long-standing legal issues between the MWSS and Prime Infra’s joint venture partner, businessman Oscar Violago’s San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders Group (SLRB), that has prevented the implementation of the project for 10 years.

It is also the culmination of more than 20 years of development work by SLRB and Prime Infra. WawaJVCO is the joint venture company of two firms.

The terms of the agreement of the project is currently being reviewed by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and the MWSS-Regulatory Office.

The tapping Wawa Dam as water source is not new. It was the first source of potable water for Metro Manila before Angat Dam became the primary source that supplies 96 percent of water to the National Capital Region and its adjoining provinces of Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan.

MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco says that the 500 MLD volume of water from the Wawa Bulk Supply Project will boost MWC’s current water production by about 30 percent.

Velasco said the tariff impact is expected to be very minimal considering the total systems cost of the treated water is cost-effective compared to other water source options as well the strategic location of the water supply source within the east zone concession.

He lauded the timely partnership of MWC and Prime Infra’s WawaJVCO as it provides a clear path towards water supply development.

Velasco emphasized that water security is one of the the cornerstones of the Duterte administration of which the Wawa bulk Water Supply Project is an integral part. The project is considered the largest water supply project that will be implemented under the Duterte Administration.

“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,” said Velasco.

In a statement, MWC President and CEO Ferdinand M. dela Cruz said: “Manila Water supports the efforts of MWSS to realize its Water Security Roadmap to fulfill its mandate on new water sources development. Many proponents are coming forward which will allow MWSS to urgently select the best combination of projects for Metro Manila consumers.”

De la Cruz added: “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.”

Aside from Wawa Dam, the priority water sources projects identified as doable and implementable during Duterte’s administration are the 150 MLD Putatan; 100 MLD Cardona; 188 MLD Sumag River Diversion 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.

Beyond Duterte’s term in 2022, other water source projects that were identified are 550 MLD Lower Ipo Unutilized water from Angat-Norzagaray Phase 2 ; 750 MLD Sierra Madre; 350 MLD Bayabas Dam; 1,800 MLD Kanan River Phase 1; and 250 MLD East Bay Laguna Lake. Also being considered are 2,000 MLD Kanan River Phase 2, and 6,000 mld Laguna Lake.