SC ruling to raise Metro water rate

The Manila Water Company (MWC), one of the concessionaires slapped with hefty fines for violation of Clean Water Act (CWA), on Wednesday warned of an exponential increase in water rates and worse traffic in Metro Manila should the Supreme Court (SC) decision issued last August is not reversed.
MWC said compressing the construction of centralized sewerage system and wastewater management facilities into five years, as the SC ruling wants, would lead to about 780 percent increase in water rates or as much as P26.70 per cubic meter.
MWC said the project was supposed to be done under a 40-year plan.
According to MWC, higher water rates would also prompt higher inflation.
Worse traffic is also to be expected since hundreds of kilometers of roads, including EDSA, which are part of the Manila Water’s East Zone, would have to be dug up all at the same time.
“The daily loss of P3.5 billion caused by existing traffic congestion could balloon significantly,” the MWC said.
In its motion for reconsideration filed last week, the water concessionaire said the SC decision fining them P921 million for failing to complete their sewerage projects in 2009 and an additional running daily fine of P322,102 until the sewerage projects are completed have “no basis.”
For one, MWC said Section 8 of CWA required water concessionaires to interconnect the “existing” water lines of households, condominiums, subdivisions, among others, to the “available” sewer lines of the concessionaires.
By 2009, it said it had interconnected 61,000 out of 63,000 subscribers to its sewer trunk.
The rest could not be interconnected because the “available” sewers would be compromised if overloaded.
But since then, the company had installed additional sewers and spent billions of pesos more than it had collected for the purpose.
The MWC underscored that Sec. 8 did not envision the completion of the whole project, only the interconnection.
The law, it added, also penalizes only the polluters or their positive acts of commission such as a failure to interconnect is not punishable.
To recall, the SC has imposed massive fines on MWC, Maynilad Water Services Inc. and the government-run Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) for their alleged noncompliance with the CWA.