P5.5-billion Manila Water project to ensure Metro Manila water supply

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The ongoing construction of the PHP5.5 billion Novaliches-Balara Aqueduct 4 (NBAQ4) project of Manila Water under a flagship “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration is on track to ensure water security for Metro Manila and suburban areas in the next 10 to 25 or, hopefully, 50 years.

Metropolitan Waterworks Service (MWSS) chairman and officer-in-charge Reynaldo V. Velasco made this statement as workers and guests witnessed the exposure of the tunnel-boring machine (TBM) cutter head from the soft concrete at the exit shaft in a simple ceremony on Saturday.

“Part of the agency’s landmark achievements is coming up with interim and long-term water source projects to approximate at least 4,000 million liters per day (MLD) in the next 10 or 25 or, hopefully, 50 years,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

He said the flagship project of Manila Water is part of the MWSS’s water security program under the current administration.

Velasco said the TBM has already broken through at the La Mesa Reservoir, more than seven kilometers away from its entry shaft at Balara in Quezon City.

The project entails the construction of a fourth aqueduct from the La Mesa Reservoir to the Balara Treatment Plants (BTP) 1 and 2 to improve the reliability and security of the raw water transmission system.

MWSS has laid down the foundation for a roadmap for water security to ensure that the delivery of water will satisfy projected demand.

There has been an 8.41 percent increase in the population being served by MWSS from 2016 to 2020 translating to 1.317 million more customers.

Velasco said the three existing aqueducts that transmit water to the Balara Treatment Plant (BTP) are beyond the 50 years service life for concrete structures having been built in 1929, 1956 and 1968.

The existing aqueduct system continuously transmits 1,600 million MLD of raw water to BTP.

“There is an urgent need to assess and rehabilitate these aqueducts,” he said.

The NBAQ4 system is composed of a new intake facility at La Mesa, a 1,000-MLD underground aqueduct, and an outlet facility at BTP. Upon completion, the project will also provide emergency redundancy in the event of a failure in any of the existing aqueducts.

He said this is the first time that the TBM technology is being used for this project in Metro Manila putting in place the 7.30 kilometer long by 3.10 meter diameter pipes underneath Commonwealth Avenue since Jan. 28, 2020.

The project is expected to be finished in June 2022 as construction of the intake tower, outlet tower and downstream network system starts with the pipe-laying works now completed.

The NBAQ4 project, one of the largest MWSS-led water supply infrastructure projects undertaken by Manila Water.

Manila Water’s partners in this project are Arup as the project management consultant, and NOVABALA joint venture, the project’s design and build contractor composed of CMC di Ravenna (Italy), First Balfour, Inc. (the Philippines), and Chun Wo Engineering (Hong Kong).

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