A recent study by Philippine social research institution Social Weather Stations revealed that only 67% of Filipino households have access to running or piped water, translating to an estimated 17 million out of over 25 million households in the country.
Despite its growing economy, the Philippines faces significant challenges in terms of water access. The country is rapidly urbanising, and its growing cities are now struggling to provide new residents with adequate water supply services.
The country’s capital Metro Manila, has likewise been facing water scarcity challenges arising from high demand and heightened climate pressures. This had led Manila West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services (Maynilad) to explore and pursue innovative ways of augmenting water supply, most notable of which is the country’s first-ever direct potable reuse facility, providing a climate-independent, reliable and safe source of drinking water year-round.
As such, Maynilad commissioned the services of technology-based social enterprise POWER 4 ALL in February 2022 for the designing and building of the 10MLD “New Water” Treatment Plant in Parañaque City, Metro Manila.
POWER 4 ALL provides access to cutting-edge solutions to clean power and clean water through the design, engineering, supply and distribution, construction, installation, and commissioning of inventive technologies to support impactful and sustainable initiatives towards business continuity, climate and environment care, humanitarian response, poverty alleviation, and community development.
The treatment plant takes treated effluent from the city’s wastewater treatment facility and converts it into drinking water that meets the Philippines National Standards for Drinking Water – the first implementation of potable water reuse in the country.
It is designed to use a combination of filtration and treatment approaches to include media filtration, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, and disinfection treatment to fully comply with very strict standards of the Philippine Department of Health.
Aggressive information and education campaigns were carried out to build public confidence and dispel public concern over potable reuse, including taste tests to demonstrate the product’s palatability. These led to acceptance from consumers and key stakeholders for the safe and sustainable source.
“New Water” was issued a conditional operating permit in October 2022 despite the initial challenges concerning a lack of potable reuse regulation in the Philippines. Following the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on water reuse, the treatment plant has since been delivering water to consumers.
The success of this project, which paves the way for future potable reuse projects in the country and the region, has been lauded at the Asian Water Awards, with POWER 4 ALL taking home the Water Reuse and Recycling Project of the Year – Philippines category win. The prestigious awards programme celebrates groundbreaking innovations in water management throughout Asia.