By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) expects the withdrawal of a case filed against them by one of the proponents of the Wawa Bulk Water Supply project otherwise “there will be no deal.”
MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco stressed this condition as the board is set to begin deliberating the water supply project proposal by port magnate Enrique Razon and businessman Oscar Violago, in partnership with Manila Water Company Inc. The Razon-led group is set to present their Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project proposal to the MWSS Board next week.
“On April 16, the TWG [Technical Working Group] will present the Wawa Dam project to MWSS,” Velasco said. “By that time the restraining order filed against us before the Court of Appeals should have already been withdrawn otherwise there will be no deal.”
Velasco expects that by then, Violago, who filed the restraining order, has already withdrawn the case he filed against the water regulator over his water rights in the Wawa watershed.
Razon’s Prime Infra, through a partnership with Violago’s San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders and Developers Group (SLRBD), signed a memorandum of understanding with Manila Water two weeks ago to cooperate on the possible development of the Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project.
Violago, who is involved in the construction of hydropower plants, began proposing to convert Wawa Watershed in Montalban, Rizal into a dam in the early 1990s.
In 1993, he claimed he obtained the water rights to develop the Wawa Dam Project but MWSS and the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) still won’t allow him to push through with it. Hence, he sued for a restraining order.
He even claimed that Manila Water “wants to grab” the project from him.
In October last year, MWSS took a second look at Violago proposal but this time, it will be done with his newly-tapped partner, Razon, the owner of International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) and Bloomberry Resorts Corp.
Located at the Wawa catchment area traversing the municipality of Rodriguez and city of Antipolo in Rizal province, Wawa Dam has a planned capacity of over 500 million liters per day (mld).
Water experts have long-cited Wawa as the best potential water supply source for Metro Manila.
Compared to Laguna Lake and other similar water supply options, it does not require an expensive treatment technology like reverse osmosis. At its capacity, it can serve more than 500,000 households in the MWSS franchise area. It is strategically located to serve the expansion areas of Manila Water.
The agreement between Prime Infra and Manila Water paved the way for the formation of a technical team that will conduct a technical study on the Wawa Dam project.
Talks are ongoing between Prime Infra and Manila Water to start the project at the soonest possible time, especially considering the current water crisis.
“The proximity and water source quality of the Wawa catchment area will allow us to deliver first water no later than 2022. Because of the scale and life cycle cost of large dams, the public can be assured that we will deliver it in a cost-effective manner,” Prime Infra President Guillaume Lucci said.
Manila Water is now in hot water for its implementation of low to no water supply interruption, affecting 1.2 million of its customers in its east zone concession area.