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MWSS reviewing proposed hike in Manila Water rates

Metro Manila, October 21 ------ Consumers in parts of Metro Manila may have to brace for heftier water rates starting 2023.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said it is studying a proposal from Manila Water for a staggered increase in tariff rates amounting to P20.37 per cubic meter (mᶟ) in the next five years.

The following are the proposed hikes from 2023 to 2027:

• 2023 - P8.04

• 2024 - P5.00

• 2025 - P3.25

• 2026 - P3.00

• 2027 - P1.08

For low-income households or those consuming about 10 to 20 mᶟ, their water bills could go up from the current P151.23 and P333.47 to P192.43 and P425.06, respectively. Meanwhile, those that consume 30 mᶟ of water may see an increase in their monthly billing from P679.02 to P866.12 next year. Manila Water said the higher rates will be used mainly on projects aimed at maintaining and improving water supply in its covered areas. Among them is the Sumag River, which could add 2 mᶟ of water per second to the Angat Dam, which is one of the largest water sources in Metro Manila. Manila Water is likewise considering the Antipolo water system, which could produce about 518 million liters of water per day, as another possible source. It added that it is coordinating with the MWSS for long-term water sources, like the Kaliwa River.

The west zone concessionaire said a 15% increase in resources would be needed to keep supply flowing, especially by summer next year. "We have a challenge on supply because we are so dependent on Angat Dam," Jeric Sevilla, corporate communications head of Manila Water, said in an interview. "We need to prepare for the 'Big One.' Ibig sabihin, even if this earthquake hits us, we need to ensure water services would continue. And extraneous events, geopolitical shocks like the Ukraine war, for example, may effect ito sa atin. Our supply chain is affected," he added.

Patrick Ty, chief regulator of the MWSS, said they hope to submit a recommendation to their board of trustees by November, or after next week's public consultations and review for east zone concessionaire, Maynilad. The approval will then be up to the board, which would have until Dec. 15, or about two weeks before Jan. 1, 2023, to decide. Under the law, tariff adjustments may only take effect 15 days after publication. The possible increase in water rates, however, comes as consumers bear the brunt of soaring prices of food and other basic goods.

Manila Water pointed out it has not implemented an increase for three years since 2020, even though there were approved adjustments. "We understand 'yung plight ng customers natin. 'Pag tiningnan natin ngayon, nagmamahal ang lahat ng presyo ng bilihin. Tumataas ang power, fuel, transport, etc. Pero we'd like our customers to understand na katulad ng ibang prime commodities, utilities, water is just as important -- if not more important," Sevilla said.

Manila Water services 23 cities and municipalities, including Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan, Taguig, Marikina, parts of Manila and Quezon City, and portions of Rizal.



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