Council to COWD: Where is P6-M annual fund for projects?

THE CITY Council of Cagayan de Oro has asked the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) to explain how the annual P6-million fund for projects has been spent.

COWD officials have assured that they can provide a report on the matter.

Councilor Edna Dahino said the city and COWD reached an agreement in 2006 pursuant to the Local Government Code which states that local government units should have a one-percent share from the total gross income of water districts in their respective area.

But instead of giving the one percent share, both parties agreed that the COWD will only pay P6 million per year to the city in the form of water projects.

"Since 2006 until 2019, the COWD failed to account where is the P78 million total worth of water projects in the past 13 years. Wala nangayo ang syudad sa (the city did not ask for the) one percent, but where is this P6 million per year, knowing nga daghan gihapon ang gareklamo sa tubig (that there are still many complained about the water supply)," she said.

"It is important they answer the query. This is not a request, but a demand that they provide us a list of these projects," she added.

Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya said COWD broke the commitment they made 13 years ago.

Nacaya said he was a councilor in 2006 when the COWD negotiated the P6 million payment.

"The commitment was broken, we were not claiming the management of COWD, that's another issue but we are simply saying that let the commitments stay, that's how the government works, we commit to our word," he added.

Dahino's resolution was forwarded to the committee on public utilities. The committee will meet anytime this week to discuss the issue.

Meanwhile, the COWD in a statement said the P6 million worth of projects are existing, namely, the installation of fire hydrants, pipeline extensions, and the rehabilitation of water supply in public schools.

While it supplies water to 64 barangays, 7 barangays in Opol, and one in Tagoloan, the COWD admits that it still has yet to serve some barangays, especially located in the hinterlands, citing the high elevation making it hard for the COWD system to reach.

"We assure the City Council that we will comply within their resolution requiring us to submit our report on the utilization of the P6 million fund," the statement adds.

No rate adjustments

Meanwhile, despite the increase in the prices of fuel and other commodities, including the El Niño phenomenon, COWD said there will be no water rates adjustment that will be implemented this year.

According to COWD general manager Bienvenido Batar Jr., the existing minimum charge for residential customers with a half inch meter size, which applies to the first 10 cubic meters, was and will still be at P218.40.

For commercial customers with the same meter size, the minimum charge remains to be at P436.80.

The water rates, Batar said, are based on the water rates adjustment approved by the Local Water Utilities Administration per BOT Resolution No. 84 series 2011 dated on June 17, 2011.

It was implemented around five years ago in three tranches: November 2013, February 2014, and May 2014, he added.

The 10 cubic meters covered by this minimum charge is equivalent to fifty drums of clean and potable water at P4.37 per drum or 10,000 liters of water at P0.02 per liter.

A water district, according to Batar, cannot implement an increase in its water tariff even if it sees it imperative to do so for its financial viability as there are stringent procedures to be followed in applying for a rates adjustment.

COWD also assured that there is sufficient water supply even though despite the El Niño phenomenon.

Batar said they already have contingency plans for such cases and assured that they are doing regular check up on the water supply in deep wells.

"Kung normal situation, [we do check ups] every quarter. Kung El Niño gali, amo nang i-measure weekly. Unya kung pananglitan kun medyo grabe na kaayo ang El Niño, amo nang i-increase to daily," Batar said.

(If the situation is normal, we do regular check-ups every quarter. If there's El Niño, we measure the water levels weekly, and if the severity of the drought goes high, we check it daily.)

Batar also mentioned that in the past El Niño situations, there were no impact or disruption in the water supply of COWD.

He also reminded everyone to conserve water and possible minimize the use of water.


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