By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Metro Manila’s water utilities — Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Corp. — are looking to spend as much as P285 billion over the next 19 years so that by 2037, the country’s capital is already 100 percent covered in terms of sewage treatment system.
Right now, Metro Manila’s sewerage coverage only stands at 13 percent.
Wastewater or sewage has to be treated because it contains a number of pollutants and contaminants that can pollute and harm the country’s aquatic resources when discharged to freshwater bodies and marine waters.
When discharged on lands, wastewater can also leach into underground water tables and can potentially contaminate aquifers and underground water.
Wastewater is also a big health issue as it carries and transports a myriad of diseases and illnesses, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.
On Tuesday, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Chief Regulator Patrick Ty said in an interview that the Supreme Court, through the Clean Water Act, has given Maynilad and Manila Water until 2037 to achieve 100 percent sewerage coverage for the entire Metro Manila, home to more than 12 million people.
“The DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] is in Boracay and the plan right now is to solve wastewater [issues] in the island. That problem in Boracay is already existing in Manila and we are actually worst. Manila Bay and Pasig River is so dirty you can’t swim in it,” Ty told reporters.
“In order for you to clean Boracay in six months, you have to shut it down. But you can’t shutdown Metro Manila [having a population so big]. The price will more than quadriple if we do it 100 percent coverage on day one. We have to shutdown and raise prices. That is why we are going to do this in gradual phases,” he added.
Right now, both Maynilad and Manila Water have their own sewage treatment plants (STP) and Septage Treatment Plants (SpTP).
Maynilad, for instance, has 30 STPs/ SpTPs that have a combined capacity of 541 million liter per day (mld), which cost around P26.43 billion to build.
Manila Water, on the other hand, has 40 STPs/SpTPs with a capacity of 312, so far spending P12 billion.
“Unfortunately, they spent around this much and we are still around 13 percent sewerage coverage for entire Metro Manila. Maynilad has 13 percent coverage and Manila Water has 14 percent coverage,” Ty said.
Moving forward, Ty said Maynilad is proposing to spend around P30.19 billion from 2018 to 2022 to have 320 million liter per day (mld) in its capacity, and another P101.45 billion from 2023 to 2037 to add 1,128 mld in its capacity.
In total, the company would have to spend as much as P131.64 billion to have a capacity of 1,448 mld.
Maynilad is particularly targeting to increase its sewerage coverage by 47 percent by 2021, 68 percent by 2026, 87 percent by 2031, and 100 percent by 2036.
For its part, Manila Water said it could boost its capacity to 725 mld from 2018 to 2022 for an investment worth P37.44 billion. Another P116 billion will be invested by the company from 2023 to 2037 for additional 222 mld.
Overall, the company would have to spend as much as P153.44 billion to have a capacity of 947 mld.
Manila Water should increase its sewerage coverage by 39 percent by 2021, 65 percent by 2026, 90 percent by 2031, and 99 percent by 2036.
Ty said MWSS “plans to pressure” this concessionaires to meet these targets.