manila water infrastructure investments

Manila Water Ensures Water Security

Climate change, irresponsible use, pollution, and population explosion all make water availability a serious sustainability issue. Thus, Manila Water, as a responsible corporate citizen, must consider how these realities impact operations, infrastructure investments, and service delivery.

Manila Water works hard to ensure 24/7 water service to its 6.1 million customers in the East Zone of Metro Manila. This includes the 1.7 million urban poor residing in informal settlements that are vulnerable to disasters and prone to conflicts due to shortages. To better prepare for water-related crises and improve response and relief efforts, Manila Water conducts regular simulations of worst-case scenarios and maps out plans accordingly.

Downpours and Droughts: A Disaster Mitigation Strategy

Manila Water's Business Continuity Program enables the timely and efficient management of the impact of disasters and strengthens its capacity for mitigation, preparedness, and response.

When Typhoon Ondoy hit in 2009, the worst disaster experienced by Metro Manila in more than 40 years, the storm severely disrupted our operations. It submerged eight out of 19 major facilities, and affected 70 percent of the workforce. As a result, 68,000 water service connections or 10 percent of customers were rendered waterless. More than 60 percent of the wastewater treatment plants were non-operational as well.

Typhoon Ondoy proved the company’s efficiency and commitment to ensure 24/7 water supply to all our customers. A company-wide red alert status was declared hours before the major floods came followed by the round-the-clock implementation of Manila Water’s Disaster Mitigation Strategy.

The strategy focused on the following actions: restoration of normal operations and water service connections; implementation of innovative alternative water distribution systems; rollout of a proactive crisis communication plan for all stakeholders; safeguarding health and sanitation; and assistance in disaster recovery efforts.

Upholding Quality and Efficiency

Water quality was a crucial priority during Typhoon Ondoy. Manila Water observed strict measures to ensure that the quality of water delivered to customers adhered to the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water set by the Department of Health. Manila Water conducted continuous water quality monitoring at evacuation centers and various sampling points.

Throughout our assistance, we did not limit ourselves to our service areas, prioritizing marginalized communities that were greatly damaged by the storm. Members of our disaster response teams, Business Continuity Team, Sagip Buhay, and our volunteer employees ensured the timely and efficient delivery of our interim measures to affected customers.

We fast-tracked recovery in the East Zone by increasing the production of the Balara treatment plant from 1.3 million liters per day (mLd) to 1.7 mLd and deployed 25 water tankers, carrying recycled water from the Manila Water-UP Sewage Treatment Plant to meet the increased water demand and give further assistance to communities in their cleaning operations.

With round-the-clock restoration activities, the eight major facilities affected by the storm quickly and efficiently normalized their operations. In just a week, all affected water service connections were restored and 100 percent of customers had, once again, 24/7 piped-access to clean water.

Then, right at the heels of 2009’s excessive downpours was the extreme heat and dryness of 2010’s prolonged El Niño. The water level in the Angat reservoir continued to drop, hitting the lowest recorded level of 157.54 meters above sea level. The National Water Resources Board reduced allocation as a means of securing the remaining water in the dam.

Manila Water’s customers continued to enjoy uninterrupted water service during El Niño because of the company’s very efficient network. Non-revenue water or system loss was also significantly reduced from 1997’s 63 percent to a new low of 11 percent by end-2010, down by almost three percentage points from the end-2009 level of 15.8 percent. Each percentage point reduction means an additional supply of 13 mLd.

Liters and Lifelines

Manila Water continues to uphold the principles of its Climate Change policy to ensure environmental sustainability. The company also recently fine tuned its disaster preparedness program and began re-evaluating the resilience of its facilities amidst disasters.

Our company’s proactive and comprehensive crisis communication plan includes the conduct of public consultations, briefings, and dialogues. Throughout the almost debilitating spells of El Niño and La Niña in the Philippines, regular water status updates eased the worries of customers and other stakeholders.