Tanay Water District’s top management discussed the agency’s proposed water rates increase and environmental fee during a public hearing on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023 at the Septage Treatment Plant (STP) in So. Daong, Brgy. Plaza Aldea. The event started at 1 p.m. and ended at 5 p.m.
The management said the move forms part of the District’s 10-year development plan.
The public hearing was part of the legal requirements for the proposed increase in water rates and inclusion of environmental fee in TanWD concessionaires’ billing statements.
During the event on Monday, GM Catolos discussed the rationale of the public hearing, saying that it’s been 13 years since the agency last implemented rates increase. He added that the environmental fee is pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004.
Meanwhile, Ms. Vickyflor Catapusan, Administrative Division Manager B, played an audio-visual presentation prepared by the Administrative Division. The AVP included Tanay Water District’s background and history, chronicling the agency’s beginnings, trials, operational capabilities, and achievements.
Mr. Emmanuel Peñada, Commercial Division Manager B, discussed the water rates adjustment and rates comparison with other utilities. He explained that water rates are subject to several factors, including inflation and wage rates, as well as the prices of fuel, electricity, and fares.
Peñada then bared the District’s water rate increase proposal: from the 2010 minimum of P226 to the P299 minimum for 2024 (upon LWUA’s approval), or a 32.30% increase. He disclosed that local water utilities are allowed by law to have as high as a 60% increase but said the District only proposed a fair amount for all its consumers. Peñada likewise presented the different water rates imposed by other Rizal water utilities, including the Pililla and Morong water districts.
Engr. Jennet Lorenzo, Engineering Division Manager B, discussed TanWD’s existing service coverage and water supply facilities, including the 16 current pumping stations (PS) and two ongoing PS, as well as the 3 concrete ground reservoirs, two elevated steel tanks, one PE tank, and one spring (Laiban), two mobile water tankers, 146 fire hydrants and blow-offs, three booster pumping stations, and pipelines spanning 69,808.53 m. She also presented TanWD’s expansion projects, which are part of its 10-year Development Plan from 2024 to 2033.
Engr. Armando Bongat, Engineering and OperationsDepartment Manager B, explained the TanWD Septage Management Program (SMP) pursuant to R.A. 9265. Bongat said the program, which involved the construction and operation of a Septage Treatment Plant (STP), was the agency’s answer to the Clean Water Act of 2004 and the Supreme Court Mandamus on Manila Bay (G.R. No. 171947-48), which directs specific local government units (including Tanay) to clean up their waterways leading to Laguna Lake and Manila Bay. Engr. Bongat added that the SMP is in line with Municipal Ordinance No. 25, series of 2018.
He stressed that the Septage Management Program involves regular collection, proper treatment, and disposal of solid and liquid waste. He added that the STP is a three-stage system with primary, secondary, and tertiary processes.
Meanwhile, Finance Division Manager B, Ms. Maria Eva Garcia, discussed the proposed environmental fee for concessionaries with minimum consumption: P45/month during the first 5 years and P65/month for the next 5 years. She also presented a table showing the computation of monthly environmental fees for those consuming over the minimum monthly consumption.
Both Garcia and Bongat explained the need to impose an environmental fee to cover the operational expenses of the STP, which they said is among the very few facilities in the country.
Dr. Joyce Gagalang, URSP Office of Public Affairs Head, served as Moderator during the open forum.
During this part, Dr. Gagalang read written questions and concerns from concessionaries in attendance. TanWD officials readily answered them and clarified critical points about the event’s agenda.
Here are the questions/concerns and answers (non-verbatim) during the Open Forum:
Q: Sana po sa malalayong areas tulad ng Dalawang Kawayan, mas mabigyan ng maayos na serbisyo.
A: Engr. Lorenzo: The expansion projects, such as the construction of additional pumping stations, will resolve such issues.
Q: Kailan magsisimula ang implementation ng new rates?
A: GM Catolos: LWUA will review the request for an increase. After the public hearing, documentation will be submitted to LWUA for review and approval. It could be implemented in the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2024. It’s a long process, kaya huwag po kayong mag-alala na baka biglaan ang maging pagtaas ng singil namin.
Q: Paano nag-come up sa P299 proposed increase, and is it allowed?
A: Ms. Garcia: It’s a projection by the Finance Division. We considered the operational versus the number of concessionaires to come up with the proposed new rates, inclusive of franchise tax.
GM Catolos: The last rate increase was in 2010 (P226). LWUA said the rate increase should be every three years. Kung tutuusin, the proposed P299 minimum is for 2016 pa, eh 2023 na. We did not impose an increase for 13 years, kasi kinakaya pa naman ng TanWD. Pero ngayon, considering the expansion projects we identified in the 10-year Development Plan, we really have to increase our rates already. LWUA actually allows local water districts to have up to 50%, but we’re only proposing a 32.30% rate increase.
Q: Why is there an environmental fee (EF) if it’s part of the mandate of the water district?
A: Engr. Bongat: It’s for the operational expenses of the STP, kagaya nang naipaliwanag kanina.
Q: Hindi po ba mataas ng P45 na EF?
A: Engr. Bongat: Based on our study, the monthly EF is proportional to the expenses to operate the STP. It’s based on your monthly water consumption (minimum of 10 cu.m).
Ms. Suzette Villanueva (MENRO): The P45 cannot cover the expenses to protect the environment. Napakamura po kung tutuusin ng P45 sa aktwal na gastusin para patakbuhin ang STP at protektahan ang kalikasan.
Q: What is the process of sewerage management request (desludging)?
A: Bongat: We will schedule it by zone starting next year. You may request in advance to have your septic tank desludged. Pero dapat po kapag schedule na ninyo sa pagpapa-sipsip ng septic tank, itutuloy ninyo kasi otherwise, uunahin namin ang mga nakahanda at babalikan na lang namin kayo kung sakali.
Q: Bakit dati nakakarating sa lugar namin ang supply ng tubig, pero ngayon ay hindi na halos at rationing na lang, pero may rate increase?
A: Engr. Lorenzo: We have service areas with high elevations. The increase will be to cover the expansion projects. We also dispatch water tankers (rationing). It’s because of the increase in the number of concessionaires that affects our services somehow.
Engr. Bongat: We’re asking for the rates increase so we can improve our services. The rate increase is imperative for service improvement. For example, the ongoing Asteria PS will service Dalawang Kawayan. The Mapunso Well will service the area na dati ay sa pumping station pa sa So. Bathala nagmumula. .
Among those in attendance were members of the TanWD Board of Directors (BOD): Dir. Atty. Maricris Matienzo (Professional Sector, BOD Vice Chairperson), Dir. Alpha Competente (Education Sector, BOD Secretary), Dir. Elizabeth Vista (Women’s Sector, BOD Treasurer), and Dir. Mary Fe Fatima Gonzales (Civic Sector, BOD Member).
General Manager (GM) Emmanuel Catolos, meanwhile, led the TanWD Management. With him were Engr. Bongat, Ms. Catapusan, Engr. Lorenzo, Ms. Garcia, Mr. Peñada, and Engr. Teodulo Custodio (Water Resources Division Manager).
Representatives from other local water utilities, such as Pililla Water District, Morong Water District, and Teresa Water District, were also present. Officials from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Center (BFAR) also graced the occasion. Representatives of Brgy. Kay-Buto and Kabalikat Civicom likewise attended the event.
Some TanWD concessionaries participated in the open forum and graced the public hearing. Additionally, For. Suzette Villanueva (MENRO) and Mr. Roberto Talavera (Sanitation Inspector) from LGU Tanay joined the activity.
Engr. Eduardo Solano and Ms. Rowena Custodio served as event hosts. #