MWSS is top violator of Clean Water Act

A YOUTH lawmaker disclosed that the country’s principal violator of the Clean Water Act is the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the government-owned and controlled corporation supplying water and sewerage services in Metro Manila.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino said Environment Secretary Ramon Paje  mentioned this information when he presented the proposed P23 billion budget of the DENR last week in the House of Representatives on August 6.

“It is ironic that the corporation supposedly providing citizens of Metro Manila safe potable water is the principal violator of the Clean Water Act,” Palatino said.

For its failure to build water treatment facilities, MWSS was ordered by the DENR to pay a fine of P236.6 million, or almost 96 percent of the total P246.7 million amount of fines imposed by MWSS to 11 companies that violated the Clean Water Act in the past year.

Section 22 of Republic Act 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004 mandates the Department of Public Works and Highways through attached agencies including MWSS to provide “sewerage and sanitation facilities and the efficient and safe collection, treatment and disposal of sewage within their area of jurisdiction.”

“Consumers have the right to worry that a major water concessionaire is guilty of polluting the waters. At the minimum MWSS should explain to customers about the violations it committed,” he said.

“In particular it should clarify if it really failed to build water treatment facilities in the past five years. It should also make a commitment to deliver safe and clean drinking water without damaging the environment,” the youth solon added.

Palatino said that MWSS needs to explain to consumers the nature of the said violations and the source of funds for its payment, given that water distributors under MWSS have been charging consumers with an “environment fee” worth over P50 per month.

“How was this money spent? Clearly it didn’t go to the building of ‘green’ facilities and other investments that would protect the environment,” the environmentalist solon said. “An accounting of the utilization of the environment fee collected from consumers is needed today,” he added.

The youth solon also expressed fear that the fines imposed by DENR was “discretely” passed on to innocent consumers. “MWSS was under fire recently for excessive bonuses given to its employees. Now, we uncover another unsettling controversy. Clearly, MWSS has a lot of explaining to do,” Palatino said.

Consumers should demand that the P236 million fine be paid by the MWSS without passing the cost to the public, Palatino said. “Water is an essential service that affects most, if not all, Filipinos. Consumers should be vigilant in the next few months if MWSS will propose adjustments in water rates,” he said.

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