The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System
(MWSS) is set to fully implement the master plan on
the improvement of sewerage in Metro Manila, and
appeals to everyone to also do their share in the quest
tosave the Manila Bay
BY MAIELLE MONTAYRE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RENJIE TOLENTINO
Metro Manila remains as the country’s central hub for investments, business, andopportunities. With more people flocking to the metro, there is a basic need required by many—and that is clean water. As the primary agency tasked with water and sewerage services in Metro Manila and parts of Cavite and Rizal, the MWSS endeavors to serve not only the growing state capital but also the environment around it.
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) replaced the previous National
Waterworks and Sewerage System (NAWASA) in the management of water and sewerage. Republic
Act No. 6234, which created the MWSS and dissolved NAWASA, has for its declaration of policy the
proper operation and maintenance of waterworks system as an essential public service vital to public health and safety. The mandate of the MWSS is “to ensure an uninterrupted and adequate supply and distribution of potable water for domestic and other purposes at just and equitable rates.” The proper operation and maintenance of sewerage systems in the service area was also made part of its mandate.
Republic Act No. 8041 or The Water Crisis Act in 1997 allowed for the privatization of MWSS. Metro Manila was divided into two zones, the East and the West zone. A Concession Agreement was granted to Manila Water Company, Inc. (MWCI or Manila Water) and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (MWSI or
Maynilad) for 25 years. This was extended for another 15 years to end in 2037. By then, the operation of the waterworks and sewerage system in Metro Manila will be returned to the MWSS, which can then opt to operate or reprivatize through another bidding process.
The MWSS nevertheless continues to perform its mandate through the MWSS Regulatory Office (RO), tasked with implementing the provisions of the Concession Agreement. The MWSS RO monitors the two concessionaires, which are required to submit quarterly reports. The component of the report includes key performance indicators and business efficiency measures (BEMs). The two private water concessionaires can therefore be monitored on several aspects including but not limited to: their franchise coverage, operation expenses, power usage, build volume, collection efficiency, down times in case of repairs, amount of water treated and sold, employee efficiency, and projects implemented. The MWSS is then able to provide assistance to the concessionaires whenever necessary.
The current Chief Regulator of the MWSS is Atty. Patrick Lester N. Ty, the youngest to hold the position. After obtaining his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines in 2003, Ty began his career as a lawyer at the Ocampo and Manalo Law Firm. Afterwards, he worked at the Department of Finance in the Privatization Office from 2006 to 2010. Thereafter, he became the Deputy Administrator
of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan from 2010 to 2017 before Ty was appointed as MWSS Chief Regulator on August 1, 2017.
WATER SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION
The mandate of MWSS requires the continuous and ample supply of potable water. The Greater Metro Manila area, which includes parts of Cavite and Rizal, was divided into two zones in 1997. “As their regulator, we compare the two concessionaires because Metro Manila was split in half, instead of having just one concessionaire,” Chief Regulator Ty says. “It is an apples-to-apples comparison because it
is different to compare the market of Metro Manila to Cebu or Iloilo since they don’t have the same demographics—the purchasing power, the population density, and such,” he notes. The best solution was to divide the coverage area into two zones, allowing for two private water concessionaires.