4 firms eye bulk water project-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Thursday, September 19, 2013
FOUR firms with links to major business tycoons in the country have expressed interest to embark on the bulk water supply scheme to help augment water needs of the Summer Capital.
Baguio Water District (BWD) general manager Salvador Royeca said four firms: Ayala Corporation’s Manila Water, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation’s Maynilad of businessman Manuel Pangilinan, Primewater run by the family of former Senator Manuel Villar and MacroAsia Corporation of the Lucio Tan Group of Companies are willing to conduct feasibility studies to supply water to the city.
Royeca said the BWD is looking into the future of the city’s water supply amid growing concerns on the rapid development and the stress of its watersheds due to urbanization and increasing demand; reasons why the agency is mulling the entry of private firms in the water distribution business.
But Royeca stressed these are all still exploratory and will pass through various processes including public bidding as per the Government Procurement Reform Act and the BWD Board of Directors.
“Water supply operators like us continue to conduct these talks as we explore additional water supply to address the growing demand. We are entertaining everyone, this early we want to emphasize that nobody is being favored here as it will undergo procurement processes,” he said.
He said the city currently has a suppressed demand for water where a strict distribution schedule is observed especially during summer months. The BWD supplies some 90 percent of the city’s 128 barangays including parts of Tuba, Benguet.
He said the private firms must revisit the Bulk Water Supply Project, particularly its feasibility study on costs, supply and demand. It was conceptualized in the late 1980s and revived in 2004 but was stalled due to opposition from the community and a court case.
He said the firms by now are aware of the growing need of Baguio for water as the BWD entered into the BWSP before to be able to provide for the future needs of the city as forecasted.
Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, meanwhile, said they are willing to extend assistance to various groups especially in identifying bulk water supply sources in the Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay (BLISTT) for the feasibility studies.
Mayor Domogan said he outlined several possible water sources for the BLISTT bulk water supply which include Nangalisan and Sto. Tomas in Tuba, Ambuklao in Itogon and another source in Sablan.
Domogan, in a meeting with the Manila Water group last Wednesday, authorized BWD to allow the firm to conduct a feasibility study within six months at the firm’s expense to identify possible bulk water supply sources to be further discussed with the local government.
“We have to involve ourselves para makita na rin natin kasi we already have this bulk water supply before pero napulitika. We have to see to it that this will not happen again kasi kawawa na naman tayo,” he said.
The mayor also stressed these talks will not only include Baguio but BLISTT towns as possible water sources.
He said a covenant in the past BWSP proposal was already signed by the city with La Trinidad and Itogon but under three clean and strict conditions such as it will serve the needs of the immediate community where the supply will come from with a corresponding payment; payment of legal obligations to host community and local government unit; and surplus water supply from these host communities will then be supplied to other towns comprising BLISTT.
He also stressed technical team from Maynilad expressed interest and will conduct its own feasibility study.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 20, 2013.