A huge issue that can happen to a water utility service company and its customers is failing to provide enough or no supply of its primary commodity. This is happening in Metro Manila, particularly with the Manila Water Company.
Since early March, water supply shortage has besieged Manila Water, the company responsible for supplying the eastern half of Metro Manila with an estimated 6.8 million people in more than 1.2 million households.
As a result, Manila Water issued a “low pressure to no water” advisories in their service areas in the past few weeks. The company cited the rapid decline of the water level at La Mesa Dam, due to limited inflows from rainfall.
The water company also mentioned the occurrence of El Niño as the Philippines’ official weather bureau had issued. It’s dry season in the Philippines and the start of the wet season with rainfalls that could refill the dams and reservoirs is in the middle of May to June yet.
Customer Communication and Response
Previously, we have written two articles about the Manila Water Company commending their community management and the use of social media in levels of service management.
Upon reading of the Manila water crisis via the NZ Herald news, we thought it would be interesting to see how the water utility company is managing the water crisis in their midst in terms of customer communication and response.
We visited the Manila Water Company FB page and observed that although the Manila Water Company promptly posts their advisories, they are not responding to customer complaints posted as comments on their FB posts.
The topmost complain that customers have posted are the inconsistency of the water service advisory schedule. It looks like the lack or absence of water flowing through the household tap has turned into floods of furious comments on social media.
The water supply interruption ranged from six to 21 hours daily in various locations in Manila causing residents to line up with buckets to fetch water from water tankers and fire trucks. On Monday (18 March), the head of the Manila Water Company Inc. apologized for the water shortage.
How asset management planning helps?
As an asset management planning expert, how would you have handled the Manila water crisis or any crisis that water utility infrastructure managers often encounter?
The response is across multiple areas. First, future demand planning is at the core of infrastructure asset management.
For water utilities, this includes predicting population growth, industry growth, settlement and development patterns and overall growth in demand for water. This is not easy in rapidly growing urban areas.
Once reasonable long term demand projections have been agreed, strategies for meeting demand can be developed. This includes water sources, water storage (dams and reservoirs) and delivery pipeline capacity.
The likely impact and duration of droughts and dry periods need to be included in the planning.
Again, with climate change and variation occurring, this is also not an easy task, and consideration needs to be given to spare capacity needs and supply factors of safety when planning infrastructure upgrades.
The long term cost of building the required infrastructure needs to be calculated with funding and revenue streams agreed. Required infrastructure needs to be built before it is needed.
As Manila Water Company is currently experiencing, there may be times when there are supply constraints, and when those occasions occur having clear, well-communicated policies, and high levels of customer communication assist in managing demand and customer service delivery.By Patrickroque01 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link