Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) will not allow water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad to pass on to consumers any financial penalty imposed by the courts against them.

MWSS chief regulator Patrick Ty gave this assurance and said it is prohibited under the concession agreement.

The Supreme Court (SC) earlier imposed close to a billion-peso fine on each distributor for violating the Clean Water Act over their failure to put up sewage lines and treatment facilities in their areas of operations.        

“If they try to insert it, it will be denied. That’s why we also engaged a third party audit firm to go over the books of the two concessionaires to ensure that they will not be able to insert it in any other form in the books of account,” Ty said.

However, MWSS said water concessionaires might charge users for “prudent and efficient expenses” incurred in completing the water sewerage project.

Proposed expenses and tariff adjustments will have to be submitted to the MWSS regulatory office during rate rebasing and assessed first before implementation.

Ty said the next rate rebasing is in 2022 which means that should there be possible tariff adjustments due to the SC ruling, it will take effect at the earliest in 2023.

The MWSS regulatory office also gave its assurance that it will mitigate the impact on water rates due to the expenses to be incurred by water concessionaires for putting up wastewater treatment facilities. Ty says the MWSS can either implement any proposed tariff increases in tranches or through expiration payment.

“Do the increases, if any, in tranches, instead of the one-time big time adjustment,” Ty said.

Manila Water had warned of an exponential 780% increase in water rates or as much as P26.70 per cubic meter if the SC decision issued last August was not reversed.           

It issued a clarification that said the increase is what it would have cost to build wastewater facilities to comply with the Clean Water Act and that it did not say there will be an impending increase or that any costs incurred will be passed on to consumers.           

This came after Ty called Manila Water’s attention Thursday over its previous statement.

“Even before, I’ve actually warned the two concessionaires to be circumspect in their jc pronouncements, because it might cause panic,” Ty said.

Maynilad and Manila Water last week filed their respective motions for reconsideration before the SC saying the fines imposed on them have no basis. (Jasper Camilo)