Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is powerless to penalize Manila Water Company, Inc. (MWCI) for the water shortage plaguing millions of its customers in the East Zone.
Citing MWCI’s concessionaire agreement, MWSS chief regulator, Patrick Lester Ty said MWSS Regulatory Office has no authority to penalize MWCI for the water shortage.
“There’s no provision for that. It’s an unfortunate situation we’re in right now,” he said.
Bayan Secreary General Renato Reyes Jr. said MWCI should be punished for its “negligence.”
Apart from restoring services at the soonest possible time,
it is now necessary for government to determine if Manila Water was in
violation of its 1997 concession agreement when it failed to provide
millions of households with water. There should be a penalty for its
— Renato Reyes, Jr. (@natoreyes) March
Ty cited some factors that triggered the water shortage — the increasing water use of MWCI customers, the design limitations of infrastructure bringing water from Angat Dam to MWCI, and the MWSS’ other concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, Inc.
Ty further attributed the water shortage to MWCI’s inability to deliver its Cardona plant, where raw water from Laguna Lake would be treated before distribution to MWCI customers, and the dip in the reserve of the La Mesa Dam where MWCI has been drawing water to augment its supply.
With the mild El Niño or dry spell, he said it has not rained to refill La Mesa Dam so MWCI’s withdrawal of water caused the reservoir’s reserve to plunge.
Ty has urged Congress to create the Department of Water or Water Regulatory Commission that would take charge of the country’s water development
In February 2017, Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing filed House Bill 4995, seeking to rationalize the management of water resources, sewage and sanitation nationwide by creating a Department of Water Resources and Services.
The bill transfers to the department the mandates of the National Water Resources Board, Local Water Utilities Administration, National Irrigation Administration, Laguna Lake Development Authority, and Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.
Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap also filed in August 2016 House Bill 2457 to rationalize the resource management of water, sewage and sanitation by creating the Department of Water, Sewage and Sanitation.
Ty said the country has more than 30 water-related agencies with overlapping functions, resulting in a fragmented and ineffective approach to water management.
A technical working group in the House began to harmonize the two bills in 2017. (PNA)