MCWD ‘must keep up’ with growing population

THE Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water (CUSW) yesterday questioned the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) for failing to raise its supply coverage to consumers, which remains at 42 percent.

Speaking during the El Niño and Water Supply Forum at the MCWD social hall, Fr. Margarito Alingasa of CUSW and the Infrastructure Development Committee of the Regional Development Council reminded MCWD that “water is a human right” and it’s unfortunate that some families still have no water connection.

The priest said that in areas where there is MCWD connection, the water pressure is too low.

Alingasa said that based on the 2010 national census data, the total population of the MCWD service area that includes the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu and the municipalities of Minglanilla, Consolacion, Cordova and Compostela was 2.344 million. The population for 2015 is projected at 2.627 million since there is no official data available.

Illegal extraction

With the population increasing every year, Alingasa said MCWD must also increase its capacity and capability.

MCWD Chairman Rene Mercado said that even if water connection is only 42 percent of the total population of the MCWD service area, the others that compose the 58 percent have their own deep wells, while some subdivisions don’t even connect to MCWD because these engage in the water business.

“We are addressing it in the governance level. The people who are not connected to MCWD are the ones extracting water from illegal wells. Where is the framework now?” Mercado said.

Mercado invited Alingasa to attend MCWD board meetings so the latter will learn about the programs and projects that are already in place, including additional bulk water of at least 30,000 cubic meters from Danao City two years from now.

“But then, are we now ready to close illegal water wells?” Mercado said.

Need to synchronize

Also in the forum, Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy urged local and national government agencies to synchronize the implementation of projects to eradicate waste of funds and efforts.

Sitoy shared his observation that after the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) concretes a road, the water utility firm destroys it to lay a pipeline.

“I propose that before DPWH makes a project plan, it should inform MCWD and the local government unit concerned, so they can also plan their necessary projects to be implemented simultaneously,” Sitoy said.

The destruction of roads prompted DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson to issue Department Order 26 series of 2011, banning excavation for the installation of water pipelines.

Contingency plan

Maria Dianne Rallon, MCWD senior project planning and development officer, said they can come up with an inter-agency capability and emergency response plan.

She said when the government planned to put up the economic zone in Lapu-Lapu City, they pointed to areas suitable to place utilities.

Rallon said that the Housing Land Use and Regulatory Board must also not approve subdivision development that encroaches on main water transmission.

Lito Maderazo, past president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, suggested a Public-Private Partnership for the supply of water in areas that MCWD cannot serve for one reason or another.

Maderazo said he believes the private sector can better manage the supply and distribution of water than the government.

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