Elijah Felice Rosales (The Philippine Star) – June 8, 2021 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — State-run Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) is looking to complete 50 treatment plants that can serve up to 50,000 households nationwide before the end of President Duterte’s term next year.
LWUA acting administrator Jeci Lapus yesterday said that in the first quarter, the agency finished the construction of 18 projects that can distribute water to roughly 18,000 households.
For the rest of the year and until the President’s term expires, Lapus said LWUA intends to put up 50 treatment plants across the country using all of the agency’s P2-billion savings.
“We have spent from 2019 up to present a total of P2 billion, the totality of LWUA’s savings. The agency now runs on zero savings, we used up everything to build treatment plants,” Lapus told reporters.
“At present, we are completing some 50 projects that could run up to about P1.5 billion in worth. That’s the balance of the P2 billion that we deployed to complete these projects,” he said.
Lapus said the LWUA eyes to speed up rehabilitation and construction efforts on water supply systems in the regions in line with the loan contract signed with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The ADB extended a $60-million loan to LWUA to put up treatment plants in at least 12 provinces nationwide, and the agency is mandated to finish all of the projects by 2022 as required under the agreement.
“We also acquired an ADB loan of about P2.6 billion catering to only 12 big water districts, and that is targeted on major provinces only because ADB fears the small localities may struggle in repaying the amount,” Lapus said.
He said much work still needs to be done in the area of expanding water distribution in the Philippines. There are 532 water districts around the country at present, where 80 percent of them supply to just half of their jurisdiction.
“We have a backlog right now in terms of reach. We are only serving 25 million people out of a possible 110 million people, and you can imagine the discrepancy, especially at a time when we need water in hospitals and quarantine centers,” Lapus said.
Further, LWUA will also extend the moratorium on the repayment of loans granted to local water districts for provincial regulators to recoup the losses they incurred through the lockdowns.
Lapus is hopeful lawmakers will find a way to increase LWUA’s budget for the agency to achieve its target of supplying water to around half of the country’s total population.