COWD Assures: Water Supply to Normalize Next Week

Jun 9, 2013


The Cagayan de Oro City Water District has assured consumers the water supply situation in its west service area will normalize by next week.


COWD GM Rachel Beja being interviewed by media following the 06-07-13 press conference hosted by COWD in its social hall


“A water supply as wide as COWD western service area needs at least a week to restore and recover dissipated pressure in the system given continuous and steady supply,” said Rachel M. Beja, COWD General Manager in a press conference held June 7 at the COWD social hall. “We may need more technical adjustments in our system after having been emptied intermittently for some time. We are doing everything possible to facilitate restoration of the system to normal condition.”


COWD GM Rachel Beja fields questions from media


COWD had been receiving a mounting volume of complaints from irate residents complaining of low water pressure or the lack of any supply at all especially during the peak morning hours.


“Although water demand in this area is around 40,000 cubic meters (cu.m.) a day, the demand rises and doubles between 6-8AM,” said Engr. Bienvenido V. Batar. Jr., COWD assistant general manager for technical services.


COWD AGM Bienvenido Batar Jr.


The daily water supply to the area totals 70,000 cu.m. of which 40,000 (60 percent) is provided by bulk water supplier Rio Verde Water Consortium, Inc. (RVWCI) and the balance of 30,000 cu.m. by COWD’s 10 production wells in the area.


In his briefing to media, Mr. Batar said the disruption of water service in the west service area were caused by the intermittent supply from RVWCI to COWD due to problems arising from turbidity and power interruptions.


COWD Presscon 06-07-13


Rio Verde’s monthly delivery to COWD from January-June, 2013 showed supply approximating its contracted 40,000 cu.m. daily except for April when it managed to deliver only 95.93 of the 1,200,000 cu.m. monthly volume ordered by COWD due to five interruptions.


“In May 2013, the problem became more pronounced with eleven (11) interruptions due to turbidity and over delivery. As a result, Rio Verde increased its delivery rate to as much as 2,500 cu.m. per hour to compensate but would stop when they had reached 40,000 cu.m. This was not what was needed by our system and certainly not what we specified to Rio Verde,” Mr. Batar said.


“Our plant can deal with all kinds of turbidity but we just chose to operate when the raw water abstracted from the Bubunawan River is less turbid since we can still comply with the daily requirement of 40,000 cu.m. even if we choose to do this,” said Engr. Joffrey E. Hapitan, Sr. Vice President for Operations of Rio Verde in a text message from Leyte.


COWD management met with Rio Verde officials on April 24 and again last May 31 to address the problem.


Mr. Hapitan confirmed COWD has ordered additional volumes starting June 1st which has enabled them to deliver at the average rate of  2,000 cu.m. per hour.


“As of today, supply from Rio Verde is stable at more or less a constant rate throughout the day,” Mr. Batar said. “This is what is most beneficial to our system.”|


Besides the bulk water supply, Ms. Beja also stressed the need to address the COWD’s long standing problem with Non-Revenue Water (NRW) which is now averaging around 52-54%, down from the previous 59%.


“Addressing NRW is a very capital extensive undertaking requiring at least PhP 500,000.00,” Ms. Beja said. “This involves extensive pipe replacement and rehabilitation and the program was integrated into the proposed increase in water rates from PhP 16 to PhP 21/cu.m. However, since the rate adjustment supposed to have been implemented two years ago was shelved, it has been very difficult to address without a major capex.”

Ralph Vincent T. Abaragan, chairman of the SAVE CDO Now Movement, who was present during the press conference, posted online his disappointment with the COWD’s poor performance in addressing the issues facing it.

“We acknowledge the efforts of the management to explain to the public how services failed on some occasions before and presently and how they address it, but to us the consuming public couldn’t care less about such details and that the board of directors together with the top management obviously was not able to anticipate, much more prepare, in arresting possible failures related to the works of the whole system.” 

“We see no concrete master plan on how to curb system loss, connection theft, future immediate demand increments and much more preventive maintenance to avoid service failures. Back up systems are clearly not defined, rescue initiatives not evident. We view your efforts to be your best but unfortunately your best isn’t good enough. The data you have accumulated over the years of operation are enough tools and references for your necessary study or analysis and actions that need not be the defining line of your shortcomings.”

“On this light the public must be made satisfied, and participation of civil society and all other sectors must be given an outmost priority as taxpayers and stake holders of this failing institution.”

However, Tito Mora, a member of the environmental watchdog SULOG, One Sendong is Enough, who attended the press conference, said there’s more to water supply problem than meets the eye.


“Rio Verde stopped the supply of water due to the river’s turbidity. Now that Rio Verde and the COWD have sat down to have a continuous supply despite turbidity of the river, we all need to address the root cause of turbidity. On June 25, SULOG will be facing multinational and industrial firms deriving their income from the environment. Our hope is for the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, payment for environmental services and other issues to address concerns such as the turbidity of our water system. This is the second forum/workshop and follow-up to the SULOG forum which will serve as an input for the incoming leaders of the region which carries with it our commitment to make the plans work.


Former councilor Bob Ocio, who chaired the city council environment committee during his tenure, shared this observation: “The water supply situation is like a ticking time bomb. It is not a problem but simply a symptom of a large-scale environmental crisis. How are we going to solve the problem in a split second when all they left are denuded forests? I have been advocating for a massive and large scale Food Forest Restoration Program”. The earlier for us to realize this, the better. Or we shall be all glued in disaster and disasters due to the environmental crisis which we are actually facing.”




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