THE P24.4-billion Bulacan bulk water supply project will start commercial operations on Monday, making it the first major water project to be completed under the current administration.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said the scheduled launch marks the first stage of the project, which will initially bring potable water to four municipalities of Bulacan.

“While the Bulacan Bulk water project was started by the Aquino administration in 2012, it is the first major water project to be completed during Duterte’s term,” MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco said in a statement during the weekend.

The project is being undertaken by Luzon Clean Water Development Corp., a unit of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), and South Korean company K-Water Resources Corp. through a public-private partnership scheme.

MWSS said it learned that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is set to formally inaugurate the project on Jan. 28, 2019.

Mr. Velasco said the “landmark completion” of the project was Dec. 17, “one month ahead of its contracted completion.” The water system initially gave free water to four areas in Bulacan: Obando, Meycauayan City, Marilao and Bocaue.

MWSS quoted San Miguel Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang as saying that the project is aimed at providing millions of residents from 24 localities in Bulacan “ready access to fresh, potable surface water while balancing the competing needs of a growing population, industry, agriculture, and the environment in the province.”

Mr. Ang said the Bulacan water project “is just one of the many projects that SMC has in store under the Duterte administration,” adding that “with our financial resources and technical capabilities, we promise to deliver several projects that support our fast economic growth.”

Among these projects is a new international airport to be built in Bulacan.

The water system consists of three stages. Stage 1 covers six water districts consisting of San Jose del Monte, Marilao, Meycauayan, Bocaue, Obando and Balagtas. Stage 2 covers seven water districts of Guiguinto, Calumpit, Bulakan, Plaridel, Sta. Maria, Paombong and Malolos.

Stage 3 has not yet started. It covers the remaining 11 municipalities of Baliuag, Plaridel, Pandi, Hagonoy, San Rafael, San Miguel, Norzagaray, Angat, Dona Remedios Trinidad, San Ildefonso and Bustos.

MWSS said the construction is set to start in the year 2022, “or even earlier.” — Victor V. Saulon