Protecting the Environment
Manila Water, as a water and wastewater service provider, has an intimate relationship with the natural environment.
Watersheds and aquifers are the main sources of raw water which is the lifeblood of the company. It is essential for the business to invest in rehabilitating, protecting and enhancing these natural resources that provide essential ecosystems services of provisioning raw water and regulating climate. This ensures long term water security on which the company’s survival depends.
With wastewater collection and treatment being a natural complement to water supply service, Manila Water returns in a responsible manner the water used by its customers to receiving bodies of water, ensuring the ecosystem services they provide -- such as food production, natural purification, and even cultural services -- are not compromised by population and economic growth.
While managing wastewater, the company also contributes to climate change mitigation through the avoidance of emissions of greenhouse gases that form in untreated wastewater and improvement of operational efficiencies throughout the water value chain. These are also complemented by people-centric programs such as environmental stewardship advocacies and community initiatives to address the root causes of environmental degradation: poverty and apathy.
Water Resources Management
Manila Water ensures that raw water withdrawals from groundwater and surface water sources as well as its discharges are within regulatory limits and done in a manner that protects the water resources and receiving bodies of water. Manila Water has commissioned studies to understand the viability and sustainability of aquifer resources. Both surface and groundwater abstractions are regulated by the water authority through the issuance of water permits or water rights.
As much as possible, Manila Water prefers to utilize surface water sources as these are more renewable compared to groundwater. In 2020, 87% of the Company’s raw water comes from surface water. Based on the World Resources Institute’s Water Risk Atlas tool, Aqueduct, Manila Water does not abstract water from high to extremely high baseline water stressed regions. All raw water abstracted is freshwater, which is defined as water with total dissolved solids of less than 1000 mg/L.
The East Zone Concession abstracts 98 percent of its raw water from Umiray, Angat, Ipo, La Mesa Manila water system, and Laguna Lake, and only 2 percent comes from groundwater to augment its water supply requirements while new surface water sources are being developed. Cebu Water and Boracay Water sustainably sources from the Luyang River and Nabaoy River, respectively. Kenh Dong and Thu Duc Water in Vietnam sources from Dau Tieng Lake and Dong Nai River in Ho Chi MInh, respectively.
To ensure the sustainability of groundwater sources, Manila Water monitors groundwater conditions and determines how long the aquifer reserves will last. The status of groundwater abstraction is regularly reported to the National Water Regulatory Board. Groundwater studies were conducted to determine the sustainability of existing sources.
Watershed Protection and Rehabilitation
Manila Water recognizes the impacts of raw water availability and quality to its operations and conversely, the Company’s impacts on the water sources. The Company anchors on nature-based solutions and environmental stewardship of key watersheds that it depends on.
Manila Water funded the protection of 9,515 hectares in Ipo, La Mesa, and Upper Marikina watersheds. As of December 2020, the Company had a total of of 1,188,020 trees nurtured since it began its watershed management initiatives in 2006. Manila Water also helped in the formulation of the Integrated Watershed Management Plan of Ipo, La Mesa, Upper Marikina, and Luyang watersheds.
Total Trees Planted as of December 2020
|Total Number of Trees Planted
|La Mesa Watershed
|Upper Marikina Watershed
Manila Water together with partners address risks and treats to protect and rehabilitate these watersheds though the following initiatives:
Through its wastewater operations, Manila Water supports the abatement of water pollution by collecting and treating the water used by customers before discharging them to receiving bodies of water. The formation of methane, which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, is avoided through the treatment of wastewater in a centralized aerobic wastewater treatment instead of treating it passively in household septic tanks. The East Zone Concession targets to attain 99 percent sewer coverage by 2037 as a commitment to the Supreme Court Mandamus with this wastewater masterplan.
Boracay Water, Clark Water, Estate Water, and Laguna Water operate their wastewater treatment facilities. Bulakan Water and Obando Water will begin their desludging services in their service coverage areas through a third-party service provider in 2021.
Manila Water complies with the effluent guidelines and other regulations on wastewater. The Company has started the upgrading of its wastewater facilities to meet its Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) -approved compliance action plans in compliance with the new DENR Revised General Effluent Standards of 2016 (DAO 2016-08) which requires the removal of nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and ammonia from wastewater to reduce algal growth in water bodies.
Click here for a 2019 Special Report on East Zone Concession’s Wastewater Issues, Accomplishments and Plans
Manila Water supports the Philippines’ climate change mitigation targets under the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on Climate Action through its energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, and the expansion of wastewater coverage to avoid methane generation from septic tanks. The Company also helps in carbon sequestration through watershed/forest protection and rehabilitation.
Energy Efficiency Initiatives
Renewable Energy Efficiency
The East Zone Concession has installed solar panels at FTI Septage Treatment Plant, Makati North Sewage Treatment Plant, and Delos Santos Pumping Station. On average, these facilities generate 170,000 kWh solar power every year. In addition, Manila Water will start sourcing renewable energy equivalent to 16 percent of the East Zone Concession’s electricity consumption through a renewable power purchase agreement with the Open Access service-provider starting on mid-2021. Manila Water also has a pilot Waste-to-Energy Facility in the FTI Septage Treatment Plant.
Clark Water and Boracay Water use solar streetlights, while Laguna Water has installed solar panels in their Booster 3 facility that generates an average of 90,000 kwh/year. Estate Water will also utilize solar energy in its facilities starting 2021.
Carbon Avoidance and Carbon Sequestration
The formation of methane, which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, is avoided through the treatment of wastewater in a centralized aerobic wastewater treatment instead of treating it passively in household septic tanks. In 2020, a total of 74,030 tons CO2e were avoided due to wastewater treatment. Computation of carbon avoidance was based on the updated 2019 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories.
Based on rough estimates using carbon sequestration of 236 tons of CO2 per ha in a natural forest and 88 tons of CO2 per ha in an agroforestry, there is about 420,000 tons CO2/year sequestered from the trees planted in the watersheds of Manila Concession.
Estimated Carbon Sequestered through Reforestation
|Type of Forest
|Carbon sequestration per ha based on the type of forest*, tons CO2/ha
|Carbon Sequestered, tons CO2/year
|*Source: Camacho, et.al, Carbon Sequestration Benefits of the Makiling Forest Reserve, Philippines. 2009.
Non-Revenue Water Reduction
Manila Water undertakes a continuing non-revenue water (NRW) reduction program to attain or maintain the optimal NRW reducing wastage of water, energy, chemical, and other raw materials. The program involves both technological and stakeholder-approach. Manila Water utilizes the district metering areas organization approach in managing NRW that usually arises from too much local pressure, undetected leaks, and metering error. Furthermore, the Company works with the community kasanggas (partners) in identifying leaks and illegal connections.
Manila Water has a proactive approach to ensure environmental compliance. Potential non-compliance is monitored frequently and acted upon to avoid adverse environmental impacts. Manila Water has Pollution Control Officers appointed for each facility who ensure compliance with all environmental regulatory requirements and whose performance is validated through regular internal audits.
Waste minimization and pollution prevention are being implemented through operational control measures needed to address significant environmental aspects and impacts as identified in Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment, and Control (HIRAC) system.
Solid Waste Management
The largest contributor to non-hazardous solid wastes is wastewater treatment which converts organic pollution into microbial biomass in sludge, a by-product of aerobic treatment which further undergoes dewatering to yield biosolids. Grits and screenings from raw wastewater are properly disposed of in sanitary landfills. Biosolids from the East Zone Concession and Boracay Water facilities are hauled, composted, and used as a soil conditioner in lahar-affected areas in Pampanga.
Laguna Water composts biosolids within its treatment facility while Clark Water dries and stores biosolids in a drying pond in its wide expansive property. Other nonhazardous solid wastes generated in offices and facilities are segregated and disposed of properly. Recyclable materials are sold to junk shops while old meters are sold to recyclers.
Hazardous Waste Management
Manila Water fully complies with the regulatory requirements set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on hazardous waste management. East Zone Concession donates its used oil and used-lead acid batteries to ABS-CBN Foundation’s Bantay Langis and Bantay Baterya, respectively. The Company shifted to LED lighting, reducing the amount of busted fluorescent lamps generated year-on-year. Hazardous wastes are properly stored in hazardous wastes storage and transported, treated, and safely disposed of through DENR-accredited service providers.
Environmental Education and Advocacy
Manila Water educates and engages its employees, customers, supply chain, and key stakeholders to advance its environmental protection initiatives. The Company believes that through partnerships and collaboration, more can be collectively done. Manila Water regularly conducts engagement activities through channels including seminars, trainings, forums, bulletins, and social media.
Since 2006, Manila Water has been organizing the Lakbayan tour, whose objective is to provide an opportunity for members of the public to experience the water trail and foster an in-depth understanding of the value of water conservation and managing water after it is used. Lakbayan takes visitors to a water source, a water treatment plants and finally a wastewater treatment plant. Since the program’s inception in 2006, a total of 104,544 individuals from various sectors have benefitted from the Lakbayan experience as of December 2020.
Bawat Patak, Tumatatak Goes to School
Launched in 2015, ‘Bawat Patak Tumatatak’ Goes to School, is a sub-program of the Bawat Patak Tumatatak (“every drop makes a mark”) employee engagement program, which gives volunteer employees an opportunity to communicate the importance of proper environmental practices to elementary school students. Activities involve short lectures, puppet shows and games which incorporate messages on personal responsibility and environmental sustainability. The annual culminating event is an interschool competition of student science projects with environmental value. As of end of 2019, the program has partnered with 36 elementary schools, reached 3,658 grade school students and tapped the assistance of 398 Manila Water volunteer employees.
Toka Toka Para Sa Malinis na Ilog
The Toka Toka Movement is Manila Water’s advocacy program that aims to inform and educate people on the need for wastewater management in communities, the value of personal commitment and the collective impact of individual actions for the environment such as having septic tanks desludged, connecting houses to sewer lines where available, segregating solid waste and spreading the gospel of environmental sustainability among one’s family and friends. This multi-stakeholder effort banks on the strategy of cooperative volunteerism from program partners such as local government units, national government agencies, businesses, media, the academe and the non-profit sector.
The Manila Concession has partnered with a total of 36 government and non-government organizations to sustain the campaign. Boracay Water developed its own local version called Amot Amot Para Sa Malimpyong Boracay, and Laguna Water also launched its TSEK ng Bayan (Tamang Sanitasyon Equals Kalusugan, Kalinisan, at Kaunlaran ng Bayan). All three programs have received awards for excellence in communications.