MPIW open to other water utilities serving Iloilo

MPIW Chief Operating Officer Angelo David Berba (right) and MPIW Commercial Division Head John Canonero. (Rjay Zuriaga Castor photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW), the major water distribution utility in Iloilo City, announced its openness to other players to help alleviate the current water crisis affecting the city.

“The water distribution is non-exclusive. We welcome any other players if it would somehow address the water distribution problem,” said Angelo David Berba, MPIW Chief Operating Officer, in a press conference on Wednesday, May 22.

Berba pointed out that this development is “not a threat” as they welcome any solution that could help the water situation in Iloilo City.

He emphasized that they do not have regulatory powers over new players, stating that MPIW has already outlined plans and projects with a clear timeline to address the city’s water distribution challenges.

However, the COO expressed concerns about the timeline and logistical aspects of introducing a new water distribution utility.

“The question is, how fast can they deliver? If we open it, one to two years down the road and they are just starting to lay their pipeworks and put up their facility. The next question is, where are they going to procure their water?” he said.

In his regular press conference on Monday, City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he is “disappointed” by the performance of MPIW, citing that the city government has become its “water boy” in addressing the water scarcity caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

Treñas announced plans to schedule a meeting next week with MPIW and South Balibago Waterworks Inc. (SBWI), noting that areas MPIW cannot accommodate will be transferred to SBWI.

The meeting follows MPIW’s involvement in the “Oplan Bulig Tubig Sa Syudad” or the rationing of city-procured water, which began on May 15.

MPIW has only committed 30 percent to the city-procured water, significantly lower than the 70 percent committed by South Balibago Waterworks Inc. (SBWI).

John Canonero, commercial division head, explained that MPIW committed only 30 percent to the city-led water rationing to avoid affecting their regular delivery to consumers.

As of May 21, MPIW has delivered 236,000 liters since the city government began its water rationing efforts.

MPIW has committed to deliver 150,000 liters daily to meet the 111,900-liter water requirements for the districts of Arevalo and Molo. It is currently using two 7-ton and one 15-ton water trucks.

‘WORST CASE SCENARIO’

Berba described the severe water supply shortages, with the raw water volume of their bulk water suppliers reaching critically low levels, as the “worst-case scenario” faced by MPIW.

“This is an extraordinary event. The El Niño phenomenon now is far more extreme than the one we experienced in 2008. It’s really very dry, and even on our side in distribution, we didn’t expect this severity of El Niño,” he said.

With the rainy season forecasted to start earlier this June, MPIW hopes to return to a normal bulk water supply level of 70 million liters per day (MLD).

As of May 22, the total bulk water supply of MPIW is at 56.2 MLD, which is already at a critical level. The normal operation level ranges from 70 to 80 MLD.

With continuous economic progress, Berba emphasized that MPIW is also “trying to catch up” with the rising demand for water in Iloilo City.

“The demand growth here is extremely high, and we are trying to catch up with it. In two years’ time, we need to double the supply we are getting from our bulk water providers,” he said.

Several pipe-laying projects, including service expansion and improvement, commenced earlier this year.

As short-term solutions to address the water needs of Iloilo City, MPIW said they are looking at recovering water losses of 10 million liters per day through pipe rehabilitation and using technology such as the Sahara Mobile Leak Detection and Tyfo-Fibre Wrap Technology.

Meanwhile, their medium-term solution includes developing a 60.5 MLD Desalination Plant, which began pre-development work in January this year and is targeted for operation in 2026.

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