Speaker vows to help LWUA address water system loss problem
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has committed to addressing the Local Water Utilities Administration’s (LWUA) problem with water system loss, as he instructed the House of Representatives to tackle the issue during its ongoing deliberations on the proposed P5.768 trillion national budget for 2024.
According to Romualdez, LWUA Chairman Ronnie Ong sought his assistance in reducing or eliminating the almost 30 percent annual water system loss of the water districts under the agency’s jurisdiction.
“The solution to these water service interruptions could be right under our noses. Patching up these water systems losses means more water for all at a time when El Niño remains a very serious threat to our daily convenience and food production,” Romualdez said.
“I have instructed the House to look for ways to help LWUA tackle this. The ongoing deliberations of the House Committee on Appropriations chaired by Cong. Zaldy Co on the proposed P5.768-trillion budget for 2024 is the perfect opportunity to explore solutions, including the rehabilitation of water supply systems and modernizing LWUA,” he added.
Citing LWUA, the lawmaker said the water districts serving areas outside Metro Manila yield an average non-revenue water (NRW) rate of 29.34 percent. This means an annual water loss of around 488 million cubic meters, exceeding half of Angat Dam’s capacity.
Ong said there are at least 244 water districts with NRW rates exceeding 21 percent, including at least 20 water districts with NRW rates ranging from 48 percent to 71 percent.
The LWUA chief and the lawmaker agreed that “NRW is the low-lying fruit or the first domino among all solutions in ensuring water security.”
Based on the former’s explanation, NRW’s issue has been a problem for decades due to most water districts’ lack of budget to install better-quality pipes, which have already deteriorated and sustained damage from typhoons and road projects.
“We must address this now dahil sa mataas na NRW, ‘di lang ang water districts ang talo, lalong-lalo na ang mga tao (because NRW is high both water districts and locals are at loss). A reduced NRW will actually mean more affordable water because of lesser production costs and lesser water supply interruptions,” Ong stressed.