MAYNILAD Water Services, Inc. is tapping a foreign expert to explore advanced filtration solutions to treat deteriorated water quality, particularly in Laguna Lake.
“We have started in choosing and making a distinct trial for this advanced membrane technologies, so we’re doing a pilot now,” Ramoncito S. Fernandez, president and chief executive officer of Maynilad, said in BusinessWorld One-on-One interview.
Maynilad, the water concessionaire for most of Metro Manila’s west zone and areas in Cavite province, plans to use a new membrane technology for rapid sand filtration called ceramic ultrafiltration (UF) membrane.
The technology will allow the company to operate with less pre-treatment, resulting in lower chemical costs.
“[We’re] looking forward to more of this because as we all know, the water quality has to be addressed and also the changes in climate patterns are supposed to be addressed,” he added.
The interview with Mr. Fernandez will be streamed on BusinessWorld and the Philippine Star’s Facebook pages, as well as the BusinessWorldTV Youtube page on Sept. 22.
Maynilad’s ceramic ultrafiltration has a longer life span of around 20 years compared with the conventional polymeric UF membrane’s five years that it currently uses for treating raw water from Laguna Lake.
The company has entered into a purchase agreement with a local consortium that will tap US-based company Nanostone Water, Inc.’s ceramic manufacturing facility in Germany.
“We’re looking at the ceramic membrane technology. We’re also looking at other technologies like iron ionization,” Mr. Fernandez said.
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System is currently reviewing the agreement to ensure it is “a prudent and efficient way” to deliver water to customers.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fernandez said that he is bullish that the company would end the year with better results. Maynilad plans to spend P26 billion this year and another P30 billion next year on infrastructure projects.
He said the plan is to push capital expenditure and infrastructure investments to obtain “service improvement in our obligations.”
In November last year, Maynilad announced that it was planning to invest around P163 billion from 2023 to 2027 in infrastructure projects.
Mr. Fernandez said that part of Maynilad’s business plan is to sustain its services to its coverage area with the projected increase in population and demand.
“We are on stream to move to 2024 with volume increases relative to the population growth and demand increase with the economic activity more intense, especially from the commercial and industrial sectors,” he said.
BRACING FOR EL NIÑOWith the onset of the El Niño phenomenon, Mr. Fernandez said that among the preparations to mitigate the impact of reduced allocation is commissioning modular treatment plants that use local rivers as a source of raw water, as well as fast-tracking pipe replacement.
Maynilad is constructing four facilities in Cavite — two each in the cities of Imus and Bacoor — worth P3.2 billion in investments that will have a combined water output of 47 million liters per day (MLD).
“We are also reactivating deep wells and also commissioning new ones,” Mr. Fernandez said, adding that the move is a “temporary solution” since deep wells are not a sustainable water source for the Philippines.
In June, Maynilad said that it was spending P1 billion to reactivate deep wells in Caloocan, Quezon City, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Bacoor, Cavite City, Kawit, and Imus. It is expected to provide 32-MLD additional supply to some 175,000 customers.
Among its latest innovations is its “new water” treatment plants, which convert treated used water from sewerage treatment plants into potable water.
“Maynilad is the first utility in the Philippines to successfully attempt the conversion of used water to drinking water,” Mr. Fernandez said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Maynilad’s “new water” facility in Parañaque currently produces 5 MLD. The company is targeting to complete building six facilities to reach 97 MLD to supply the needs of almost 400,000 customers.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fernandez said the company “fully supports” the proposed creation of the Department of Water as it will “orchestrate” and “push” flagship projects.
“Basically, its objective is to implement the much-needed institutional reforms, then bring cohesion to our flagship projects, especially in a fragmented water and water sanitation sectors,” he said.
Maynilad serves Manila, except portions of San Andres and Sta. Ana. It also operates in Quezon City, Makati, Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas, and Malabon.
It also supplies the cities of Cavite, Bacoor, and Imus, and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta, and Rosario, all in Cavite province.
Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc.
Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera