Poe warns water firms: Fulfill obligations or face penalties, have franchise revoked | Inquirer News

Poe warns water firms: Fulfill obligations or face penalties, have franchise revoked

/ 10:04 AM February 07, 2022
Water supply woes may continue until next rainy season

(INQUIRER file photo)

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe on Monday warned water concessionaires that they will face penalties or have their franchise revoked if they fail to deliver on their obligations to the public, as she raised concerns over the recent water supply service interruptions faced by consumers of Maynilad Water Services Inc.

In a statement, Poe said Maynilad consumers have reported to her office their experience of having no water for 42 hours straight.

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“We expect our concessionaires to deliver on their obligations or face penalties if not the revocation of their franchise,” said Poe, who sponsored Maynilad’s franchise renewal as chairperson of the Senate public services committee.

Maynilad’s franchise renewal was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Duterte on Dec. 10, 2021. Maynilad is currently servicing the west zone of Metro Manila and Cavite.

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“Water scarcity is the least that we need as our people continue to grapple with the threats and effects of the pandemic,” said Poe.

“We call on Maynilad to address this situation and work round-the-clock to restore water service to affected homes,” she added.

Poe then pointed to the Revised Concession Agreement (RCA) entered into by the government via the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) with Maynilad and Manila Water, which is servicing the east zone of Metro Manila and Rizal.

Under the RCA, failure to provide 24-hour water supply at the required pressure for 15 days continuously shall be a ground to terminate the agreement, she said.

Poe noted that Maynilad had announced water interruptions from Dec. 6 to Dec. 22, 2021 and from Dec. 27 to Jan. 15. On Jan. 21, it said the water interruptions would last until Feb. 15.

“We cannot allow any undue skirting of this provision by restoring water on the 15th day, only to let the taps dry up again,” Poe said.

“Even just a day without water poses great risks to our communities,” she added.

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Maynilad earlier explained that its “water production from Laguna Lake has been affected by the northeast monsoon that has been pushing unusual amounts of sediment toward our Putatan treatment plants.”

“The resulting turbid water needs more processing before being released to our customers,” it added.

In response to Poe’s concerns, Maynilad spokesperson Jen Rufo told INQUIRER.net that the concessionaire is “in the process of restoring the efficiencies of our plants that have been adversely affected by unprecedented changes to the raw water quality of Laguna Lake.”

“We understand the concern of Senator Poe, and most especially the 260k customers representing 17% of our customer base experiencing rotational supply interruption due to reduced production of our Putatan treatment plants,” Rufo said.

“This is the first time in 12 years that prolonged high turbidity and an algal bloom happened almost simultaneously in Laguna Lake, exceeding the design parameters of the plants,” she added.

According to Rufo, Maynilad is “working round-the-clock to restore normal production at the soonest possible time.”

“Meantime, we have increased our complement of mobile water tankers to 66 from 45, and our Stationary Water Tanks to 20 from 10, to augment the supply,” she added.

As a long-term solution, Maynilad is currently constructing another treatment plant in the South that will augment its production by 150 million liters per day once completed in 2023, Rufo added.

Poe, meanwhile, asked the MWSS to submit to her committee its full report on the said water  supply interruptions.

“This situation is untenable for our people—their taps and pockets shouldn’t further run dry,” Poe said.

“Sa ilalim ng revised concession agreements (RCA), ang mga concessionaire ay kailangang magkaroon ng alternatibong water supply tuwing may scheduled water interruption,” she added.

(Under the RCA, the concessionaires need to have an alternative water supply when there is a scheduled water interruption.)

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