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Manila Water Story


The true value of water is realized only when there is lack of it. It’s also why it is often taken for granted. Water is so much a part of our everyday lives that the concept of not having it is too overwhelming.

Unfortunately, this was once a way of life that Metro Manila residents faced every day. Before 1997, the capital’s water supply and distribution were in disarray. Illegal connections ran rampant. Clean and potable water was a privilege that poor families simply did not have, and that others had to acquire at a steep price.

In 1995, this situation prompted the Philippine government to enact the National Water Crisis Act, which paved the way for the turnover of the operation of water services from the government-owned Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to the private sector.

Ayala-led Manila Water Company took over the East Zone of Metro Manila under a Concession Agreement that granted the company exclusive rights to the use of land and facilities for the production, treatment and distribution of water, as well as the rights to operate the sewerage system.

The Triple Bottomline:
Business Sustainability, Social Responsibility and Environmental Advocacy

Manila Water Company, Inc. is the exclusive provider of water and wastewater services to over six million people in the East Zone of Metro Manila, comprising a broad range of residential, commercial and industrial customers.

The East Zone encompasses 23 cities and municipalities spanning a 1,400-square kilometer area that includes Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan, Taguig, Marikina, most parts of Quezon City, portions of Manila, as well as the following towns in Rizal: Angono, Antipolo, Baras, Binangonan, Cainta, Cardona, Jala-Jala, Morong, Pililia, Rodriguez, San Mateo, Tanay, Taytay and Teresa.

Before Manila Water’s entry in the water industry in 1997, the East Zone suffered from various problems such as insufficient infrastructure and environmental deterioration, accelerated by rapid population increase. 24-hour water supply was only available to 26 percent of the area’s population mainly due to leakages often caused by meter tampering and illegal connections — practices which caused a domino effect of problems including water contamination and water-borne diseases. Water system losses or non-revenue water (NRW) was at a record high of 63 percent at the time.

Under these circumstances, Manila Water prioritized water supply efficiency to deliver more water to more customers. This was supplemented by improvements in the organizational structure, development of its workforce, and rehabilitation of facilities. The remarkable results are as follows: 

  • Improvement in 24-hour potable water supply coverage from 26% in 1997 to 99% in 2016 at a minimum pressure of 7 psi
  • Doubling the number of customers from 3.1 million in 1997 to 6.5 million in 2016
  • Expansion of water mains and distribution lines with over 5,000 kilometers of pipes, replacing nearly 90% of the water network
  • Reduction in water losses or NRW from 63% in 1997 to 11% in 2016, an unprecedented feat in the history of the Philippine water sector
  • Increase in the volume of water delivered to customers from 440 million liters to over 1.3 billion liters per day
  • Consistent 100% compliance to the water quality standards of the Department of Health and the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water
Manila Water's rehabilitation program was also driven by a single principle: care for the customer. The company divided the East Zone into business areas, assigning territory managers and customer care specialists for each. The company maintains its close ties to its customers by establishing partners among community and barangay leaders called "kasanggas."

Today, of over six million residents served in the East Zone, 1.8 million or more than half come from marginalized communities by way of the company’s flagship program, Tubig Para Sa Barangay (TPSB) or Water for the Community. TPSB enabled low-income communities to have continuous and reliable access to water. Assisted by both government and non-government organizations, the company eased land ownership requirements and provided them affordable and potable water supply.

As it expands its horizon, Manila Water takes on a challenge bigger than the supply of clean water – the provision and expansion of sewerage services.

Manila Water takes on a holistic approach to attaining sustainability by placing environmental initiatives at the forefront, starting with the preservation of valuable water resources and proper disposal of treated wastewater back to rivers and waterways to support aquatic life.

To date, Manila Water has achieved the following in terms of wastewater or “used water” management:
  • Most extensive sanitation or septic tank desludging program in the country with 50 desludging trucks and two septage treatment plants in operation, one of which is the largest septage treatment facility in Asiatreatment plants in operation, one of which is the largest septage treatment facility in Asia
  • Leading sewerage operator in the country with 40 sewage treatment plants that consistently comply with the effluent standards and regulatory requirements of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Laguna Lake Development Authority
  • A combined used water treatment capacity of 310 million liters per day, preventing 8,329 tons of organic pollutants (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) from being discharged into rivers
In line with the Clean Water Act of the Philippines and the Supreme Court ruling which orders various government agencies to coordinate for the clean-up and revival of Manila Bay, Manila Water is implementing an aggressive and accelerated program called the Three-River Master Plan that aims 100 percent sewerage coverage and targets to restore the water quality of the three major river systems in Metro Manila — the Pasig, San Juan and Marikina Rivers.

Extending its success in delivering water and wastewater services in the East Zone, Manila Water is expanding its operations by establishing water and wastewater service partnerships in Boracay, Clark Freeport Zone (Pampanga), Cebu, Laguna, Tagum (Davao Del Norte) and Zamboanga City in the Philippines, as well as international ventures in Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia.

After 20 years of service, Manila Water remains dedicated to its customers and the environment, as it gears towards a sustainable future for everyone.