THE privatization of the Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD) may be the best option to take to solve the city’s worsening water problem, a city councilor said on Tuesday, October 10.
City Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr., chair of the committee on public utilities, said privatizing the water district may mean access to funds that can be used to upgrade the city's obsolete water system.
"Karon, ang COWD is dependent siya sa loans, unya tan-awon pa gyud sa ilang utangan ang ilang revenue, unya kung tan-awon nimo, mas daghan raba ang non-water revenue sa water district kaysa sa ilang water revenue," Lao said.
Lao said the water district should not be afraid to take this step, pointing out that this option has been proven effective by other water utilities in the country.
If not privatization, Lao said making it into a cooperative, could also be the option.
"What makes the cooperative good, is part owner ang katawhan sa water district, in other words, kung magpataas sila ug water rate, ikaw as part owner, you are part of the decision-making body, unlike sa private company pud, na ang decision naa ra sa corporate board," he said.
Lao said these options "seem to be the only ways to ensure efficient delivery of water to households."
"We have water shortage kay wala man ma-upgrade ang atong water system. Ang 40,000 cubic meters per day with enough pressure, kulang pa gihapon na, daghan pa kaayo na barangay ang walay water connection at present," he said.
He said the entry of a new bulk water supplier won't solve the city’s water woes as the COWD will still handle water distribution.
The MetroPac has yet to start to start supplying water since it is still ironing out its contract. However, it is expected to supply 100 million liters per day to over 90,000 service connections of the water district.
Engineer Bienvenido Batar Jr, COWD assistant general manager, meanwhile, said that privatizing water districts has become a trend for many cities but pointed out that there are still advantages in maintaining the water district concept.
"Sa water district, gawas sa restrictions sa finances ug technology, financially viable utility man gihapon kita," he said.
He however admitted that privatization would mean easy access to finances and technology - two things which he said, are difficult under the government procurement process, among other things.
But for Batar, the success or fall of a water district still lies on its implementation of projects, and cooperation and unity among key persons involved in the water facility.
Meanwhile, since Saturday evening, supply flow rate from Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. (RVWCI) to COWD take-off point has stabilized but still with zero pressure, a COWD advisory said on Tuesday.
Though pressure is insufficient, improvement to reach the farthest ends of the service area of water supply in some of the affected areas has been observed, such as Canitoan, Pagatpat, Patag, Bulua, and Iponan.
However, elevated areas including portions along road to Lumbia, including Fresno Subdivision, back of DSWD, Palalan, Old Airport and some parts of Opol, remain waterless. Some parts of Patag, Bulua, Iponan and Opol continue to experience Low Pressure to No Water.
In order to provide supply to these areas, water delivery will continue to be facilitated until such time normal water supply is restored while COWD continues to make adjustments in the pipeline distribution system to optimize use of available water from the off-take.
Water will be delivered by COWD’s two tankers, Rio Verde’s one tanker, as well as firetrucks from the Bureau of Fire Protection of the city and of Opol town.
The Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco), as well as Limketkai Mall and the Volunteer Fire Brigade has likewise pledged in delivering water to affected areas..
"Water from COWD sources is safe. However, due to circumstances that may happen during transport, handling and storage, boiling water for drinking is advised," the COWD said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 11, 2017.