COWD : Oro Water Supply Remains Precarious

Mar 28, 2018

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The Cagayan de Oro City Water District has cautioned that the city’s water supply remains precarious despite measures being taken to address the problem.

Water Supply Situation in Cagayan de Oro City (courtesy of COWD)

Water Supply Situation in Cagayan de Oro City (courtesy of COWD)

 

“Our present supply from all sources is just enough to meet demand,” said Engr. Bienvenido V. Batar, Jr., COWD Acting General Manager. “If any of our wells go down for repairs, it would immediately result to disruptions in water service.”

In fact, Batar said it was this situation that led COWD to undertake their bulk water supply project in 2004.

However, due to legal issues arising from the bulk water supply contract with its first bulk water supplier Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc., (RVWCI), COWD was forced to look for other remedies and eventually dissolved its contract with RVWCI and inked a new joint venture with MetroPac Water Investments Inc. (MWIC) to form Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water, Inc. (COBI) as its new bulk water supplier.

Members of the CDO Volunteer Fire Brigade distribute water to residents at the City Central School following TS Vinta which damaged  COWD facilities in some barangays. (photo courtesy of the CDO Volunteer Fire Brigade)

Members of the CDO Volunteer Fire Brigade distribute water to residents at the City Central School following TS Vinta which damaged COWD facilities in some barangays. (photo courtesy of the CDO Volunteer Fire Brigade)

 

COWD called a press conference 22 March 2018 to address issues arising from its recent joint venture contract with MWIC.

In a slide presented during the press conference, Batar showed that COWD has 17 production wells in its East Service Area producing 114.456 million liters daily (MLD) and eight production wells in the West Service area producing 31.824 MLD plus 40 MLD bulk water from COBI for a total of 71.824 MLD. Total daily production for the two areas was pegged at 186.290 MLD.

“The 186,290 cu.m. is COWD’s daily production capacity,” Batar noted. “We want to clarify that our present supply is just barely sufficient to meet the city’s daily demand. However, the real demand could be much greater since many areas suffer from low water pressure and cannot avail of the amount they really need on a daily basis.” 

Although COBI was already supposed to be delivering 60,000 MLD to COWD since January, Batar said it was still delivering only 40 MLD due to ongoing repairs at the RVWCI water treatment plant caused by floodwaters spawned by Tropical Storm Vinta last December. At present, COBI is buying its bulk water from RVWCI.

Aerial Drone Shot of damaged portions of Rio Verde tranmission line damaged by floodwaters spawned by TS Vinta last December 22, 2017. (photo supplied)

The bulk water supply purchased by COWD from COBI at present accounts for 56% of the total West Area daily production, and 21.47% of the total COWD daily production for the East and West service areas.

Batar admits the COWD’s Supply situation was complicated by problems with Rio Verde contract.

Floodwaters spawned by TS Vinta damaged the Rio Verde transmission line across the Cagayan River last December 22, 2017 (photo supplied)

“As planned, bulk water deliveries as of this date should already have been 120MLD but only 40MLD is still being delivered. The 80 MLD difference should have been COWD’s buffer to improve our resiliency in meeting issues encountered in the supply/demand situation,” he explained.

Another problem complicating COWD’s supply situation is its High Percentage of Non-Revenue Water (NRW).

“NRW is water produced by COWD for which we have no income such as the water we use for testing, flushing of valves, and  supplying fire hydrants,” said Eduardo Montalvan, COWD Chairman of the Board. “The Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) allows a maximum of 30% NRW per water district. When I was appointed a member of the COWD Board, our NRW as 59%, one of the highest in the country. That means of our total daily production of 186,290 cu.m. per day daily production, 59% of that or 109,911 cu.m. is wasted.”

Water from fire hydrants distributed to waterless areas form part of the COWD's non-revenue water

Water from fire hydrants distributed to waterless areas form part of the COWD’s non-revenue water

 

While COWD’s present NRW is down to 50.36%, Montalvan said COWD has committed to LWUA to reduce it further to 20%.

Most of the NRW are believed caused by old and leaking pipes in the poblacion that even predates the COWD’s creation in 1973.

“So we have to identify all the leaking pipes to replace them and ultimately, we have to replace all of the old pipes. We loaned P425 million from DBP just for that.  Loan took a long time to be approved due to the complicated process, so far only 50% has been released and the balance has not yet been released.”

Montalvan admits even that amount is still lacking if COWD is to replace all its old and leaking pipes.

“This is one of our most important projects we have to really focus on because even if we reduce NRW by 30%, that means 30% more income for us and we don’t even have to implement any further rate increases,” he added.

COWD has created an NRW Dept. headed by Engr. Edgardo Tuvilla that is charged with focusing on and resolving our NRW issues. 

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