Some European cities could learn a few things from the Manila Water Company in the Philippines. In 1997, the public water distribution network for the Eastern district and adjoining suburbs of the Philippine capital was out of date. Furthermore, sewer and sanitation services were seriously antiquated.

Water losses from leaking pipes and illegal tapping amounted to 63%, standard of water quality was low, customers were few despite a growing population, revenues were minute and supply connections were few and far between. 

Company engineers knew that modern plastic pipe systems could be used to remedy the situation. But how would the company resolve the technical and financial challenges?

Water for the Community

An ambitious “Water for the Community” program was created to revitalise the city’s water delivery system. Funding for this major program would amount to EUR 395 million to be spent over a period of six years. Although this requirement was considerable, projections indicated a sound investment. Public and private partners were thus readily forthcoming including the World Bank as a participant. 

Meanwhile, the firm’s project delivery group had decided to use flexible and durable HDPE pipes for all the pipe laying and extensive expansion projects. This would call for the delivery of 30 containers of reliable and high quality electrofusion fittings, tapping tees, branch saddles and spigot fittings for butt fusion to complete the distribution network. As part of the Sustainable Development Program, a scheme was devised to assist contractors with the procurement of 130 welding machines of both the butt and electrofusion varieties.

We don’t just lay pipes…We improve lives!

Contractors were quick to learn the various jointing methods and easy installation of the new pipe systems. Their teams worked round the clock and with such easy pipe laying techniques, deadlines were completed well before schedule. So far, around 2,000 kilometres of new polyethylene pipeline have been connected to the mains. 600 kilometres were laid in 2007 alone. 

Over five million people now have access to the public water supply and almost 100% of households have running water 24 hours a day. Water losses have fallen from 63% to 30% while revenue streams have soared by an almost threefold increase of household customers to over 900,000. Water quality has improved dramatically – achieving 100% compliance as of 2006 onwards. 

Core strategy for Manila Water is “We don’t just lay pipes…We improve lives!” The benefits to the community have also empowered the firm to expand its scale and scope of operations. Geodino V. Carpio is Group Director for Project Delivery. “We aspire to become a dominant player in the industry and the Philippines and beyond. The Manila Water team is all geared up to undertake this journey of providing very essential services to more places and more people,” he explains. 

Plastic pipe systems will clearly assist in realising this vision!