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MWSS orders Maynilad to refund customers P27.477M, warns of possible supply deficit

The Regulatory Office of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS-RO) on Tuesday announced a P27.477-million penalty on Maynilad Water Services inc., which the concessionaire is set to refund to select customers affected by service interruptions in the past months.

According to MWSS officer-in-charge and Deputy Administrator for Customer Service Regulation Lee Robert Britanico, the amount was computed after several consultations and validations, and was higher than Maynilad’s proposed amount of P18 million.

“We want to make sure that hindi na mauulit ito (this does not happen again). We are pushing them that they improve their services sooner or later. We came up with a different amount,” he said at a virtual briefing.

“Right now I think they’re operating at normal capacity. If there are still water service interruptions na unusual, we encourage everyone to please report it to Maynilad,” he added.

The rebates are targeted to be reflected in the February bill of Maynilad customers in the southern area of Luzon, where interruptions were recorded in December and January, with some having totally no water for several days.

Maynilad currently serves customers in the west zone, which covers the cities of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon Manila, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Quezon, Valenzuela. It also services certain areas in Cavite such as the cities of Bacoor, Cavite, and Imus; and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta, and Rosario.

Britanico said the amount will be “significant” for the customers, with some possibly having a negative bill as the rebates could be higher than their monthly consumption. The amount would then be carried over to the next month.

“Considering all the factors na sinukat namin, na kinonsider namin, na pinasok namin also, P27.5 million was reasonably determined para ma-appease or at least mabigyan ng relief ‘yung mabibigyan ng rebate na 'to,” he said.

(Considering all the factors we measured, and considered, P27.5 million was reasonably determined to appease or at least give relief to those who will receive this rebate.)

“If they are paying less than the rebate that they will get, ‘yung amount will be carried over to the following month but again, ‘yung premise na konti lang ‘yung binabayaran nila for the month (the premise is that they are just paying small for the month),” he added.

Maynilad responds

For its part, Maynilad said it already agreed with the MWSS-RO on the rebate, and it would be best for customers to get the details from the public information drive of the agency scheduled next week.

“To date, maintenance activities at our water treatment plants in Putatan, Muntinlupa, are ongoing,” it said in a statement via mobile message.

“We are working round-the-clock to fully restore water service at the soonest possible time. Our mobile water tankers continue to do the rounds of affected areas meantime,” it added.

The concessionaire also noted that the full 300-million liters per day (MLD) output of its existing Putatan Water Treatment Plants is “just enough” for the current requirements of its customers in the area, which is why any reduction due to maintenance activities are immediately felt.

“To address this, we are constructing a new treatment plant in Poblacion, Muntinlupa. Targeted for completion by yearend, this facility is designed to produce 150 MLD of additional supply to reduce service disruptions,” it said.

Service interruptions

Earlier investigation of the MWSS-RO found that Maynilad violated its service obligation of an uninterrupted 24-hour supply in areas served by the Putatan Water Treatment Plants (PWTPs).

The MWSS last September slapped Maynilad with a P9.264-million fine for “unusual and prolonged” service interruptions experienced by customers from May to July 2022.

It also penalized Maynilad in February 2022 for unusual and prolonged service interruptions within the PWTP supply zone, equivalent to a rebate of P323 in the April bill.

Moving forward, Britanico warned of a possible water supply deficit by next year should the population in the concession areas continue to increase steadily, given the limited supply.

“We have an increasing demand so the deficit is project. Our supply right now is okay, (but) if we don’t get a new water source or an increase in supply by this year baka magkaroon tayo ng problema (we might have a problem),” he said. —AOL/RSJ, GMA Integrated News