‘A FRESH START’ New water firm aims to plug leaks, improve supply

METRO Iloilo Water District board chair Jessica Salas (left) turns over a symbolic faucet to Metro Pacific Investments Corp (MPIC) President Jose Ma. K. Lim to formally launch the start of the operations of Metro Iloilo Water (MIW) on July 1, 2019 at the Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo. Also in photo are Senator Franklin Drilon, MIW President Eriberto Calubaquib, and MIW Chief Operating Officer Enrique Gita. (Photo by Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

PANGILINAN-led Metro Pacific Water (MPW) and Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) formally launched on July 1, 2019 the joint venture company that will handle the water distribution and septage services in Metro Iloilo.

And one of the biggest challenges Metro Iloilo Water (MIW) will hurdle is how to plug leaks and stop pilferages that bleed the city’s potable water supply.

MIW is the product of a joint venture agreement (JVA) between MIWD and MPW. The JVA paves the way for a 25-year concession for the expansion, and improvement of the water distribution system, and wastewater management facilities of MIWD.

The water distribution system will now be handled by MIW while MIWD will monitor the performance of MIW based on the Service Contract Agreements.

Jose Ma. K. Lim, president of Metro Pacific Investments Corp, the holding company of MPW, harped on the future benefits of MIW’s operations.

“The commencement of this new joint venture marks the start of the improved living conditions among the Ilonggos. Access to potable water is a basic human right and as experts in the water industry, it is incumbent upon us to address the water needs of our countrymen and ensure proper waste sanitation through proper waste management,” Lim said in his opening speech.

With the strong technical capability and experience of Maynilad, an MPW subsidiary that handles water distribution services in parts of Metro Manila, Lim said they hope to serve the Ilonggos with quality and sustainable water services.

“Maynilad has dedicated itself in improving the lives of 9.5 million people within its concessionaire. This is the role we also see MIW has planned for the people of Iloilo, supplying the Ilonggos with sustainable water while helping them protect the environment through the treatment of waste water,” he said.

In a press conference, Engr. Eriberto Calubaquib, MIW president, said their priority is to satisfy the around 40,000 consumers in Iloilo City and municipalities of Oton, Maasin, Cabatuan, Sta. Barbara, Leganes, and San Miguel.

“Right now, we have 40,000 service connections and the supply of service is not consistently 24/7 since the water is being rationed. The first approach is really to satisfy the existing customers that they get sufficient water before we do the expansion to other consumers,” he said.

Calubaquib added that in the next five years, they target to expand their serviced population in the households from 20 to 35 percent.

“Right now, we have a population served at 20 percent. Our plan is in the next five years, this 20 percent that are being served today in a ration basis, they will get 24/7 supply and then we increase the number from 20 percent to 35 percent of the population,” he said.

Aside from improved water availability in service area and service efficiency, Amaryllis Josephine Castro, officer-in-charge of MIWD’s Office of the General Manager, said they aim to reduce non-revenue water (supply lost to leaks and pilferages) from 50 percent to 35 percent over the 25-year concession.

They will also expand services to Molo and Arevalo districts.

“We will be going through a lot of adjustments and there is an adjustment period that is happening now but for sure the consumers will experience improved water services in the metro,” Castro said.

Meanwhile, Castro urged the current consumers of MIWD to transfer and sign their new water contracts under the new company.

“More than 60 percent of the MIWD customers have already transferred to MIW and we would like to appeal to those who haven’t processed yet to please do so. We target to finish it by September 30,” she said.