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Manila Water readies plan for sanitation projects until 2037

MANILA Water Co., Inc. on Monday said that it would submit its completion plan to build and operate water, sewerage and sanitation projects until 2037.

In a regulatory filing on Monday, Manila Water said it had received on Monday a copy of the Jan. 17, 2023 notice from the Supreme Court (SC) that “denied with finality” a motion for partial reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“It also stated that no further pleadings or motions will be entertained, and that entry of judgment will be made immediately,” the listed company said.

With the denial, the DENR will have no basis to continue to refuse to accept the company’s payment of fines as computed by the court, Manila Water said. The fines were imposed on the water concessionaires in their case for non-compliance with Republic Act No. 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

Aside from the fines, the company said the SC notice also mandated the east zone water concessionaire to submit as required by its legislative franchise a plan for the establishment and operation of water and sanitation projects until the 2037 period.

This includes a five-year completion target, which will achieve 100% water, sewerage and sanitation coverage by 2037.

In October last year, the SC unanimously affirmed its 2019 ruling that the Metropolitan Water Works and Sewerage System (MWSS), Manila Water, and Maynilad Water Services, Inc., should be held liable for violating Section 8 of the Clean Water Act.

However, the High Court also allowed the lowering of the fines imposed on the two concessionaires to P30,000 per day from P200,000 per day from the day of the violation on May 7, 2009 to Jan. 21, 2022, which amounts to P202.26 million.

In 2009, the DENR filed a complaint against MWSS and its concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water, for their failure to provide, install, operate, and maintain adequate wastewater treatment facilities for the sewerage system, resulting in the degraded quality and beneficial use of the receiving bodies of water leading to Manila Bay.

Section 8 of the Clean Water Act mandates the connection of existing sewage lines in all subdivisions, condominiums, commercial centers and other establishments, including households, to an available sewerage system within five years from the law’s effectivity in 2004.

Manila Water said it made several attempts to pay the fine but the DENR rejected the payment. The OSG then filed a motion for partial reconsideration on Nov. 2, 2022.

In the SC notice denying the motion, the court said that “the issues raised by the OSG have been passed upon and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal.”

Meanwhile, Maynilad is set to spend around P3.2 billion for the construction of four modular treatment plants in Cavite, the west zone water concessionaire said on Monday.

“Cavite is the farthest point of our concession area, so there are portions that do not yet receive 24-hour water supply. The new modular treatment plants will draw water from adjacent dams, and serve as a dedicated supply source that can lengthen supply availability for these underserved areas,” Maynilad Chief Operating Officer Randolph T. Estrellado, said in a media release on Monday.

The modular treatment plants are expected to be completed between 2023 and 2024, these will be located in the province of Cavite in the cities of Bacoor and Imus, the four modular treatment plants will have a combined water output of 47 million liters per day (MLD) which can provide water supply to about 200,000 households.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

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