MPIW urges DPWH to expedite digging permits

Road digging by Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW) in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. (Arriane Angelo photo)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW), the water utility serving Iloilo City and neighboring towns, asked the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to expedite its applications for permits to dig, allowing them to replace old pipes and lay down new ones.

MPIW COO Angelo David Berba told Daily Guardian on Air last Friday, June 14, that their major trunkline from Pavia to the city is set to be replaced with 1-meter PVC pipes imported from Spain.

“The goal is to upgrade the existing pipeline transmission line from a size of 400 [centimeters] to 1 meter, to carry more supply volume,” Berba explained.

He said they are targeting to start physical works on the project in July, pending DPWH approval.

“We are appealing to the DPWH to at least allow us so we can expedite our projects,” he said.

Berba noted they are also seeking approval to lay down pipes in the middle of the road, given the prevalence of electric posts and sewage drainages in the area.

“We have a project along Diversion Road [going to Pison Avenue]. We are appealing to the DPWH because our request is to lay the pipes on the roadway because the sidewalks are all posts and drainages. So, our request covers the carriageway itself, the middle of the road, so we could lay our pipes [without obstruction],” he said.

He also said that the Iloilo City government has been “very accommodating” with the projects due to their benefits for the constituents, and that the bulk of permit requirements rests with the DPWH.

Berba shared that Iloilo City has a concentration of their system’s old and dilapidated pipes, which are the subject of 7 to 8 total pipe replacement projects currently on the company’s track, in line with its goal of recovering 10 to 15 million liters per day (MLD) of non-revenue water (NRW).

He cited upcoming projects in the villages of Abeto Mirasol Taft South (Q. Abeto) in Mandurriao district and Sinikway in Lapuz district, which were made out of cast or galvanized iron.

“We will replace them with PVC or HDPE [pipes], depending on what pipe quality would be the best for them, given that they are close to the waters. It needs to be anti-corrosion. PVC and HDPE are the good pipe [materials] for those areas,” he said.

He also asked consumers to be patient as they work on these projects, which are seen to reduce and ultimately eliminate NRWs, especially for those in the city.

“So, our appeal to the customers is to be patient because we will excavate them in the next few months. Imagine, we are feeding 40 to 50 [MLD] to the city, but the NRW to the city is 50 percent, so half of that supply is spilled over. Of course, we have to save that so we can distribute to the customer,” he said.

“[NRW] is at our expense, although the good thing about it is that water losses are not charged to the customer. That is our burden, and that’s why we are driven to reduce that so it can be profitable soon,” he added.

The COO admitted that they needed to catch up with the time lost to implement service improvement projects, which were stalled for most of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are already 7 to 8 projects we’re proposing with the city [government] and DPWH. The magnitude is P1.2 billion for 1 and a half years. That is the scale of the investment on projects that we are doing in the city just to improve the delivery of water supply in the city alone,” he stated.