‘Fasttrack construction of water flagship projects, audit performance of water service concessionaires, and penalize abusive practices of private utilities” – Gov. Marcos

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Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos called on the government to hasten the construction of water flagship projects, including the Kaliwa and Laiban dams, and to make the water agency and two concessionaires accountable for the water shortage.

“Mataas ang presyo ng tubig, pero maayos ba ang serbisyo? Kung hindi nila kaya, malamang may ibang magsisikap na mag serbisyo sa publiko ng tama. Alalahanin dapat nila ang serbisyo, hindi lang puro kita,” the Governor said, adding that the public deserves better service than what the two concessionaires have been rendering.

“Baka kailangan nang mas maraming concessionaires ang papasukin at patatagin ang pamamahala ng gobyerno sa water resource management, supply and delivery. Privatization should serve the greater number of our people not a few corporations,’ she added.

She also pointed out that the Kaliwa and Laiban dam projects which were started during the time of her father, the late former President Ferdinand Marcos, have been put in the back-burner in past administrations.

“It has been too long since these were put on the government’s development agenda during the Marcos administration. Copping out of making the difficult decision to push through the construction of additional water sources like the Kaliwa and Laiban dams led us to where we are now – a looming massive scarcity of the most important survival resource of our people,” Marcos said.

“Ang tubig ay buhay – napakaraming mamamatay at magkakasakit pag mawala yan. Makakatiis ng mas matagal ang mga tao sa walang kuryente, pero kung walang tubig – sobrang pahirap yan sa kanila. Sa mga hospital na lang, at mga densely populated areas, maraming buhay ang malalagay sa panganib. Maraming tao ang di kayang bumili ng mineral water para inumin o ipampaligo!,” she said.

The administration senatorial bet noted that no less than the chief regulator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System attributes the water shortage to the failure to build alternative water sources that were proposed as early as the Marcos administration. The Laiban Dam and the smaller 600-million liters per day (MLD) Kaliwa Dam, which is projected to address Metro Manila’s water needs for the next 20 years, were shelved during the term of President Benigno Aquino III.

“It is only the Duterte administration that has put in serious effort to push for our much-delayed and much-needed water projects,” she observed.

Marcos expressed strong support to the Duterte administration’s efforts to revive the two dam projects and she hopes that dilatory obstacles be resolved immediately. She stressed that “the administration should go full steam ahead in bringing the Kaliwa and Laiban dams to full operation to ensure sufficient water supply for our people in Metro Manila at least within 5 to 10 years from completion.”

Aside from the two dams, Marcos cited other flagship water projects include the 500 MLD Wawa Dam, the 800 MLD Angat-Norzagaray waters, the 350 MLD Bayabas Dam, and the 500 MLD from Laguna Lake.

Marcos also called on the government to restudy the existing situation of the two concessionaires managing water supply delivery in Metro Manila.

“Can we continue to leave the system in the hands of only two players? Given the billions the concessionaires make yearly from water resources built with public funds, government needs to conduct a performance review in terms of efficiency of services,” she explained.

As an immediate solution, MWSS has requested the National Water Resources Board to allow Manila Water to activate 101 deep wells which can supply 101 MLD to its consumers. Manila Water has also been directed to activate and operationalize its Cardona, Rizal treatment plant to provide an additional 100 MLD to its consumers.

On a personal level, Marcos said our people can help conserve water to ease the water shortage problem especially in the looming onslaught of the El Niño phenomenon.

“A few small changes in our routine can go a long way when it comes to conserving water. Tandaan, pwedeng mawalan ng lovelife, huwag lang ng tubig,” Marcos quipped.

Marcos cited the following water-saving tips: use of a shower bucket to re-use water for flushing the toilet or watering plants; turning off the tap while washing your hands; fixing leaks; re-using gray water to avoid wastage and maximizing supply use, among others.