FINEX Forum tackles Metro water supply » Manila Bulletin Business

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“Much needs to be done for the country to become water secure,” declared  Reynaldo V. Velasco, chairman of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, before the Environment Committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX).

Velasco pointed out that the Philippines’ national water security score stand at 40.4 out of 100, which  means that we are not quite secure in our water supply.

Water supply-related officials flank Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco (fourth from right). In photo are (from left): FINEX Environment Committee Members Franklin F. Ysaac, Adele A. Jaucian and Joy B. Sarmiento, Finex Foundation Liaison Trustee Romeo Bernardo, Manila Water Company, Inc. president and chief executive Ferdinand M. Dela Cruz, FINEX Environment Committee chairman Rodrigo E. Franco, Velasco, National Water Resources Board executive director Dr. Sevillo D. David Jr, Maynilad Water Services Inc. president and chief executive Ramoncito S. Fernandez and FINEX Foundation treasurer Sherisa P. Nuesa.

“Water supply must be secured through additional water sources. We cannot depend solely on the Angat Dam especially when the ‘Big One’ or a 7.2 magnitude earthquake strikes,“ Velasco added, citing that MWSS is pursuing the Laiban and Kaliwa water dam projects to ensure adequate, steady, and sustainable water supply for consumers in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in the next 25 to 50 years.

The MWSS  chief spoke at FINEX’s “Water Security Forum Series 4: Averting a Crisis,” in FINEX’s bid to raise awareness on how government and private agencies can work together to reduce risks and improve capacity to ensure long-term water security.

The fourth segment of the water security forum shed light on the overall water situation in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.  Presented during the forum were the Duterte administration’s new water source projects that will impact the water supply needs of the country.

Key private sector speakers in the forum were the Presidents of the two Metro Manila water concessionaires — Ferdinand M. Dela Cruz of Manila Water Co. and Ramoncito S. Fernandez of Maynilad Water Services, Inc.  The government side was represented by  MWSS Chairman Velasco and Water Resources Board executive director Dr. Sevillo D. David.

“It is encouraging to see the government and private sectors working together to push various plans and measures for water sustainability,” said FINEX Environment Committee Chairman Rodrigo E. Franco.

Manila Water’s Dela Cruz said Manila Water has reduced water system losses and saved 700 million liters per day. He also noted the importance of investing in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects to prepare for the ‘Big One’ and the need to build more sewerage treatment plants.

“As we start breaching the limits of supply, we need to work together in developing the Kaliwa Dam soon, updating the Metro Manila Water Supply Masterplan, preserving the sanctity of the Concession Agreement, and ensuring a successful Rate Rebasing Exercise,” Dela Cruz said.

For its part, Maynilad has committed to invest more in water infrastructure like reservoirs and pumping stations, as well as in new treatment facilities to improve the water supply system’s resiliency to climate change.

“The war on water can easily be won, as long as government and the private sector work hand-in-hand to protect our limited water resources,” said Fernandez.

The NWRB official said the agency has already started working on a road map on water security in the context of climate change and globalization.

Romeo L. Bernardo, Finex Foundation Liaison Trustee, said:  “Water is an economic good.  And a nation and government needs to manage it as such – treat it as a scarce resource, price it so it is not wasted, ensure that resources of the public, whether taxes or water charges,  are collected and invested wisely and efficiently for this sector.

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