SOME 10,000 cubic meters of water coming from Pilipinas Water Resources Inc. (PWRI) will supply Barangay Mambaling in Cebu City and Barangay Opao in Mandaue City in October 2023, benefitting approximately 25,000 to 30,000 households, according to the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD).

This volume of water is in addition to the existing and newly delivered 15,000 cubic meters of water from the Lusaran Bulk Water Facility that serves the mountainous parts of Cebu City, MCWD General Manager Edgar Donoso said in a press conference on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

Despite the additional supply of water, Donoso said MCWD’s current production of 275,000 cubic meters of water per day is not enough, as the water district’s franchise area, comprising eight local government units, demands 600,000 cubic meters of water per day.

MCWD serves the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, and the towns of Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Compostela.

To move closer to closing that gap, Donoso said they are now looking for suppliers for 95,000 cubic meters of water.

Since May 8, 2023, Lusaran has been providing a total of 15,000 cubic meters of water, and probably next month an additional 5,000 cubic meters will arrive, which will provide a total of 20,000 cubic meters per day.

El Niño

Donoso said this is not only in preparation for the upcoming El Niño weather phenomenon, but more importantly, for the daily supply of water which the water district ought to provide its customers.

State weather bureau Pagasa has placed the probability of the El Niño occurring at 89 to 94 percent this year and said it may even persist up to the first quarter of 2024.

MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III said this additional water supply coming in October is part of its contract with PWRI that involves providing water through desalination.

PWRI president Victoria dela Peña said they are already preparing the plants in Cebu City to fulfill their commitment with the MCWD in due time.

Last Dec. 28, MCWD signed a P20.7 billion desalinated bulk water supply contract with PWRI and 8990 Housing Development Corp. Joint Venture (JV) for the delivery of water.

The 25-year contract involves delivering 10,000 cubic meters of water daily in the first year, and then 25,000 cubic meters per day for the remaining 24 years.

Daluz said the use of desalinated water is “El Niño proof,” unlike the use of ground and surface water.

Seawater is always abundant, while ground and surface water will subside during an El Niño, when rainfall is typically below average.

Desalination involves removing the salt and minerals from saline water, like sea water, to turn it into fresh water suitable for human consumption.

Some 70 percent of the water supply sourced by MCWD comes from below the ground, while the rest comes from surface waters like rivers and reservoirs.

But the unabated extraction of fresh water from underground has caused saltwater intrusion, preventing MCWD from pumping out more water from the ground. This is why MCWD is now focusing on using desalinated water to meet the water demand of its customers. (AML, CTL)