TALISAY City Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. called the attention of the heads of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), who failed to show up at a meeting with the Talisay Water Management Council (TWMC) on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 4, 2019.
The mayor posted his disappointment on his social media page.
“I was supposed to meet the officials from MCWD today for our first meeting with the newly created TWMC to discuss issues regarding the dwindling water supply in our barangays,” Gullas said. “But unfortunately, no one from MCWD appeared in our meeting and I was just informed that the MCWD officials that I was supposed to meet decided to take a vacation in Singapore and Japan. They made us wait for hours and they didn’t bother to tell us that they were on a vacation. Where is the professional courtesy?” he said.
It wasn’t only the mayor who waited, but also members of the entire City Council, 22 barangay captains and City Hall department heads.
On Thursday morning, Dec. 5, MCWD acting manager Stephen Yee visited the mayor’s office.
In a media interview, Gullas said he was disappointed because he felt disrespected.
“For me, we have to cite certain issues like no water. Yet we have to pay, if there is water--that is only from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. in certain areas--while others don’t. First of all, they need to invest in the City of Talisay, which is their main supplier of water. For so long, they didn’t care at all,”Gullas said.
Chairmaine Kara, MCWD spokesperson, admitted that there was a miscommunication and personally apologized to the mayor.
Kara said they will check the availability of distribution lines in Talisay City to see if some of them need to be replaced. She said they’re now preparing for the summer season.
“Our priority now is the preparation for the summer season, and Jaclupan is one of our surface water sources that will be affected by the dry spell. So we have developed two wells in different areas in Talisay. We will augment the lost volume of water. So in this case, our message is that we are doing something in case we lose our water supply from Jaclupan. We have an augment supply, so it won’t become an inconvenience to the consumers of Talisay City,” Kara said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
She said they’re conducting research that those areas with zero water consumption don’t have to pay a minimum service charge. However, this still requires the approval of the Local Water Utilities Administration.
“There’s a flag-down rate of P152 per month. That is the minimum service fee. It has to be paid whether the consumption is from zero to 10 cubic meters per month. We are studying on the zero consumption. We will try to waive this next summer. If we can waive the minimum service charge, or per cubic meter, if five cubic meters of water is consumed, they will only pay for the five cubic meters. That is the proposed scheme. We still need to have it approved by the LWUA, or the Local Water Utilities Administration, which is the approving authority of our water rates,” Kara said.
In a related development, residents of Sitios Cabancalan and Villa Bulsita in Barangay Bulacao, Cebu City have found a way around the water shortage. Some 300 families get their supply from the Bulacao Spring.
Barangay Captain Rodrigo Jabellana said the spring was developed during the last administration.
The water flows down a large pipe and is stored in a tank that is connected to several houses, he said.
They pay a monthly fee of P125, he said.
“This is not a business. What we want is to provide water to residents. We just need to charge them a little for maintenance like electricity for the pump,” Jabellana said in Cebuano.
The water does not run 24/7, as the supply is not sufficient, which is why they’ve stopped accepting applicants who want to tap the water from the spring, he said.
Meanwhile, Jabellana said they have not raised the rates despite the water shortage.