Rates may increase as MCWD looks for other water sources

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio March 26,2019 - 08:05 PM

An aerial view of the of the Buhisan Dam taken on March 11, 2019, as the dry spell brought on by the El Niño weather phenomenon takes a toll on crops, fish farms and water supply in Cebu. /CDND Photo/Tonee Despojo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) is now looking for new sources of water to provide its consumers in the midst of zero water supply from the Buhisan Dam and the near critical water level of Jaclupan Facility

MCWD spokesperson Charmaine Rodriguez Kara said MCWD is looking at two major water sources that will lessen the current supply-demand gap of 238,000 cubic meters per day to 450,000 cu. m. per day.

This translates to a deficit of about 200,000 cu. m. per day in the four cities and four towns under MCWD’s service area.

Kara said it is possible that this situation will result in the increase of water rates.

Drilling additional wells, which is a short-term solution to the supply shortage identified by MCWD, would mean an increase of P20-P50 that will reflect in the consumers’ monthly bill under “Power Cost Adjustment.” The increase is necessary because wells require power to operate.

Kara said MCWD is entering into public-private partnerships for two major projects.

These are the Mananga Dam, which will have a daily yield of over 80,000 cubic meters per day, and the Mactan Desalination Plant, which is estimated to produce up to 100,000 cubic meters per day.

Producing water from both sources could be between P50 to P100 per cubic meter.

These increases will be incorporated in the new water tariff that MCWD’s consumers will need to approve.

At present, MCWD has 191,000 service connections.

“Kailangan nato pangandaman ang reality nga momahal na gyud ang tubig,” said Kara.

(We need to prepare for the reality that the price of water would increase.)

“After the El Niño in 2015, there are wells that have not recovered and did not go back to its original state. For this reason, we can no longer accept new applications from some areas in Metro Cebu,” said Kara.

Kara also revealed that even private wells have begun drying up, which led to connection requests from households and establishments but MCWD had to turn them down because of the lack in water supply.

Real estate growth 

For this reason, MCWD is scouring areas in Metro Cebu where they can drill for water in the hopes to provide more water supply to its consumers.

Kara said MCWD is facing a challenging task in keeping up with the growth of real estate projects and high-rise living spaces.

For every high-rise residential project, Kara said they coordinate with the developers to identify how much water is needed for a certain number of occupants.

She said MCWD can only provide water supply that is equivalent to the number of occupied spaces. She said water pressure is only limited to the ground level.

“If ganahan sila nga naay tubig ang second floor ug uban pang levels, magpalit gyod silag equipment para mosaka ang tubig,” she said.

(If they want the water pressure to reach the second floor and other levels, they have to purchase equipment to raise the pressure to bring the water up to these levels.)

Long-term solutions 

Kara said another alternative is desalinated water.

MCWD is already in talks with possible private partners to build a desalination plant that will turn saltwater into potable water. This project will make Mactan Island independent from mainland Cebu in terms of water supply.

When this happens, Kara said more water can be allocated to other critical areas when Mactan becomes water-independent from mainland Cebu.

Another long-term solution is building the Mananga Dam, which Kara described as  one of the target projects of MCWD that has long been identified to help increase the water supply in Metro Cebu.

But the cost of the dam project may reach P7 billion, which MCWD, with its limited funding, could not afford to build on its own.

“Mananga Dam would generate at least 80,000 cubic meters per day.  This would increase our supply ,” said Kara.

Kara said MCWD is carrying out an awareness campaign to educate the public about conserving water. But this campaign will only be successful with public cooperation.

“Every drop counts these days so let us not waste our water,” she said. / celr

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