San Miguel Corp. (SMC) on Tuesday said the commercial operations of its Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project (BBWSP)-Stage 3 will start in January 2023 after it formalized agreements with seven water districts in Bulacan, which will be covered by its project.

SMC said it was able to forge agreements with the towns of Norzagaray, Hagonoy, Pandi, Baliwag, San Rafael, San Miguel, and San Ildefonso.

“We are targeting start of operations by January 2023. With these agreements signed with the seven water districts, and with the MWSS [Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System] having approved the updated business plan, we can now start preliminary engineering design, and then construction,” San Miguel President Ramon S. Ang said.

“We anticipate that in just a year-and-a-half, we can start operating these new water facilities, and all our countrymen in these areas in Bulacan will finally have reliable access to safe, affordable potable water.”

Apart from the additional seven towns, four other water districts remain outside of the project. These are Pulilan, Angat, Dona Remedios Trinidad and Bustos.

San Miguel said it hopes to forge agreements with these water districts soon.

For decades, many households in Bulacan relied on deep wells that tapped into groundwater sources, despite the province’s close proximity to Angat Dam.

Apart from poor water quality, Ang said the depletion of groundwater has also contributed to land subsidence and flooding all over Bulacan.

“With more residents able to immediately access water through our facilities, the need to rely on dwindling groundwater supply is eliminated. Experts have said groundwater extraction is one of the causes of land subsidence, or the gradual sinking of the ground, and this worsens flooding in the province. Like our upcoming major clean up Bulacan’s rivers, the BBWSP forms part of our larger strategy to help mitigate and solve flooding here.”

Currently, Bulacan Bulk Water supplies water to 13 areas, covered by stages one and two development of the facility, which started commercial operations last January 2019.

These include San Jose del Monte, Marilao, Meycauayan, Bocaue, Obando and Balagtas, Guiguinto, Calumpit, Bulakan, Plaridel, Sta. Maria, Paombong, and Malolos. The said project is a public-private partnership project of Luzon Clean Water Development Corp. (LCWDC) and K-Water Resources Corp. consortium with the MWSS.

The LCWDC is responsible for the financing, construction, operations and maintenance of the three project stages.

The Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project produces an average volume of 160 million liters per day for around 165,000 households, and has a maximum capacity of 388 million liters per day.