Manila Water reduces system loss to all-time low of 11%

February 19, 2012 11:26 am 

MANILA, Feb. 18 – With more water off street leaks, the more water goes into the customers’ taps.

This has been one of the key measures undertaken by the Manila Water Company in bringing down its system loss or non-revenue water of 63 percent when it took over the East Zone concession in 1997 to the current all-time low of 11 percent at the end of 2011, unprecedented in the Philippine water industry, the MWC said on Saturday.

The high system loss in eastern Metro Manila in 1997 could be attributed to leaking pipes, proliferation of illegal connections and defective under-registering water meters.

With no new water source other than Angat Dam which provides 97 percent of the water supply in the whole Metro Manila, MWC went on an aggressive system loss reduction program, combining technical and engineering solutions with social interventions to address water theft.

“We had to employ a multi-pronged approach to curb the high level of water losses when we took over in 1997,” said Orlando Villareal, MWC’s head of Water Network Technical Support Services.

“It was a mix of technical interventions utilizing supply and pressure management, active leakage control, meter maintenance and replacement, management of district metering areas, holistic pipe replacement and rehabilitation. The system we inherited was already very old and leaking,” Villareal added.

Along with engineering innovations to address the leaks, MWC was also quick to realize that a sizeable portion of the losses were also due to illegal connections.

To address this, Manila Water launched its flagship program in 1998 called Tubig Para Sa Barangay (TPSB) or Water for the Poor program designed to make piped water available to low-income communities and informal settlements where illegal connections were then very rampant.

Prevelyn Gazmen, MWC Customer and Stakeholder manager, said, “We had to work with local governments and communities and conduct dialogues with neighborhood associations and discuss with them the advantages of having regular and legal connections with us, foremost of which is to ensure the quality of water. Illegal tappings have been a source of water contamination in the system.”

To date, Manila Water has completed more than 700 TPSB projects benefiting more than 1.7 million from the marginalized sector.

Water recovered from the non-revenue water reduction initiatives of Manila Water has reached more than 650 million liters per day, enough to build a medium-sized dam which would have cost about P25 billion to build.

This is the same water that now flows to the taps of previously unserved and underserved areas such as Taguig City and now reaches the mountain city of Antipolo City and several towns of Rizal province.

The Manila Water Non-Revenue Water Strategy had been awarded as the Water Efficiency Project of the Year during the Global Water Awards in 2010 as well as the Honor Award in the Operations/Management category of the 2010 International Water Association Project Innovation Awards. (PNA) scs/JCA

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