Manila Water reaches 25 years, renews commitment to quality water, environmental services | Inquirer News

Manila Water reaches 25 years, renews commitment to quality water, environmental services

By: - Contributor / @inquirerdotnet
10:36 AM August 03, 2022
For the past 25 years since it took over the operations of the water and wastewater systems of MWSS in 1997, Manila Water has significantly transformed lives of more than 7 million residents of the East Zone of Metro Manila and Rizal Province by providing 24/7 water supply after having reduced its water losses to a world-class level of 12%. For the coming years, its service improvement programs are anchored on ensuring water security, service continuity, service accessibility and environmental sustainability.

For the past 25 years, Manila Water has significantly transformed the lives of more than 7 million residents of the East Zone of Metro Manila and Rizal Province by providing a 24/7 water supply after having reduced its water losses to a world-class level of 12%.

Like the movement of water, continuous and life-giving, the journey of Metro Manila’s East Zone concessionaire Manila Water Company, Inc. has taken a similar motion.

Since its establishment in 1997, the company has maintained its mission of creating an exceptional customer experience in the provision of sustainable solutions vital to health and life.

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As it celebrates its 25th anniversary this 1st of August, Manila Water acknowledged that its work would not have been done without the solid alliances it has fostered. “None of these would have been possible if not for the strong collaboration and partnership through the 25 years, primarily with our regulator, MWSS, and our national and local government partners, the business community, and of course, our customers and other stakeholders,” said Manila Water President and CEO Jocot De Dios.

Prior to 1997, Metro Manila was in a serious water crisis. Illegal connections, low water pressure to no water, massive leaks, and poor customer service abound.

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To address this, former President Fidel V. Ramos signed into law the Republic Act No. 8041, also known as the “National Water Crisis Act”. The Act ordered the transfer of water distribution to the private sector in 1997. Manila Water took over the East Zone concession and started its service obligations which include water, sewerage, and sanitation.

The privatization has resulted in expanded service coverage, improved service delivery, and increased operating efficiency. Since then, Manila Water has been working doubly hard to continuously improve its water and wastewater services.

Milestone transformation

From its 3.1 million customers at the start of operations, Manila Water’s clients have grown to seven million in 2021, reaching significant milestones such as residents gaining access to 24-hour water supply, expansion of water mains and distribution lines, and more water delivered to customers. Apart from these, systems losses or non-revenue water (NRW) were significantly reduced, from a dismal 63% of production pre-1997 to the current world-class rate of 12%. This translates to increased operational efficiency and more water saved and subsequently distributed to customers.

“Even during the height of the pandemic, we made sure to supply our customers with clean and safe water, 24/7. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we remain relentless in improving our services and infrastructure to fulfill our commitments to our stakeholders and the environment,” De Dios added.

Through the years, Manila Water’s capabilities have created positive transformations in water and wastewater system development and service delivery. It built water supply infrastructures such as the East La Mesa Water Treatment Plant and the Rizal Province Water Supply Improvement Project, central to which is the Cardona Water Treatment Plant, with one million and 788,000 household beneficiaries, respectively. It has also developed the Novaliches-Balara Aqueduct 4 (NBAQ4) Project which ensures the continuity and reliability of raw water supply.

Wastewater management

Manila Water also aims to be the leading provider of wastewater and environmental services in the country.

With this, the company has built wastewater treatment infrastructures—including the North and South Pasig Sewer System with the Ilugin Sewage Treatment Plant, the Taguig North Sewage Treatment Plant, and the Marikina North Sewerage System Project—with thousands of households expected to benefit from efficient sewerage services and cleaner rivers and waterways in the metro.

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Apart from building infrastructure, Manila Water primarily practiced community and customer engagement, seeking information directly from the ground to be able to deliver quality sewerage and sanitation service obligations to the entire East Zone concession. This initiative successfully addressed the problem even back in 1997 when only 3% of the population is connected to a sewerage system and 85% of Metro Manila homes relied only on septic tanks.

To sustain these efforts, Manila Water also capitalized on proactive technical solutions such as a separate sewer system and a combined sewer-drainage system. As of 2021, the East Zone has a total of 41 Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and two Septage Treatment Plants. With its 78 vacuum tankers, the company has also desludged more than two million households.

Water for all, convenience for all

Manila Water has always sought business inclusion. Through its “Water for the Poor” (Tubig Para sa Barangay or TPSB) program, nearly two million people from marginalized communities were granted access to potable supply and affordable water with adequate pressure.

TPSB addresses various situations prevalent in some communities, such as the so-called spaghetti or illegal water connections, low water pressure to no water, leaks, and poor customer service in general.

“This program provides a sustainable solution to one of the common problems in various communities across the country. TPSB addresses the water needs of low-income communities while reducing systems losses or water wastage,” explained De Dios.

Manila Water vowed to continue to empower its people with a customer-centric mindset while providing quality services and sustainable solutions for its customers. This mindset led to the birth of the Manila Water App, a simple, easy-to-use tool that provides customers the convenience of accessing their account information, transactions, and concerns on their mobile gadgets.

Even when its brand of excellent service is now being exported to local and international shores outside of the East Zone, Manila Water aims to continuously develop critical infrastructure, with a growth strategy focused on penetrating unserved and underserved territories in the country and beyond, through flexible business and service models while expanding and deepening services to existing business areas with more innovative solutions.

“This is anchored in our vision of becoming a global leader in providing quality water and environmental services supportive of sustainable development that help build better lives and resilient economies,” De Dios said.

As a testament to these efforts of fulfilling its mission on its way to realizing its vision, the company recently received a significant nod of approval from the International Water Association (IWA) as it recognized Manila Water as Water Company of the Year, the first from the Philippines and from any third-world country to be awarded as such.

Focusing on ESG agenda

Manila Water has also released the first series of its medium-term sustainability goals that outline its progress and plans on embedding Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies into the company’s business strategies.

“We have re-imagined the company with new purpose, vision and mission. We are drawing on our heritage as an industry pioneer in sustainability practices and reporting to further focus on and embed ESG into our overall business operations,” said De Dios.

The company’s mid-term sustainability targets, set to be achieved by 2025, include reducing and avoiding scopes 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 60% through renewable energy and wastewater treatment; building infrastructures to satisfy service commitments and improvements; and ensuring water access and security by allocating at least 15% supply buffer from expansion and additional water sources.

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