Rama proposes city-based water district; Daluz deems it costly, impractical

By: Pia Piquero - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | February 23,2024 - 03:38 PM

RAMA WATER DISTRICT: Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III. [file photos)

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has proposed that a city-based water district would be established, similar to, but a scaled-down version, of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD).

He said that if the city would have its own localized water entity, it could concentrate efforts on managing the water resources specific to the city.

READ: Rama to his critics: Reflect before you criticize me

In his “Ingna’ng Mayor” segment via Sugboanon Channel, Rama said that having a local water body exclusively for Cebu City would mitigate concerns regarding resource management and leadership.

“Siyudad sa ta, pirti natong dakua pagkasyudad. Dili na ni basta-basta ordinary atong pagka-syudad,” he said, justifying the need for having a city-based water district.

(We are a city, but we are a big city. We are not just that ordinary city.)

Rama clarified that it could be a smaller version of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) or a new department under the executive expanded from the current Cebu City Water Advisory Committee (CCWAC).

READ: MCWD: Legal counsel of previous board tells Rama “end this madness”

“Aron wala na’y lalis-lalis anang appointing appointing, magbuhat ta’g atong kaugalingon. Because we are a chartered city, naa na,” he said.

(So there would be no argument over that appointing, appointing, we will just create our own. Because we are a chartered city, so we can  have that.)

The persistent leadership dispute within MCWD has been a concern, prompting Rama to advocate for a city-level solution.

It can also be recalled that Rama removed Lawyer Joey Daluz III from the MCWD board and appointed Melquiades Feliciano as the new chairman.

READ: Replacement of Daluz as MCWD chair was ‘legal and valid’

This decision was made partly due to alleged violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act related to three bulk water supply projects in Mactan, Cebu, which was approved by the MCWD board.

However, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) had already said in a previous statement that “local executives have no authority to remove the chairperson and members of the Board of Directors of a Water District.”

He noted the importance of establishing a water resource management department within the city’s framework, which would facilitate the creation of its water district.

This, he argued, would ensure a more focused and efficient approach to water management.

However, Daluz, the current chairman of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), said that while the idea of creating a localized water district might be desirable, it could also be costly and impractical.

READ: Daluz and Tumulak potential tandem for 2025 midterm election

Daluz noted the practical challenges involved in such a transition, highlighting the significant investments already made by MCWD in infrastructure like pipelines, which would make it difficult for a local government unit (LGU) to replicate.

He also explained that while the mayor might desire a city-specific water district, the logistics of creating a separate distribution network without existing infrastructure would pose substantial hurdles.

Furthermore, he noted the short-term mayoral terms, which might not allow for the completion of long-term projects like establishing a new water distribution system.

“Lisod kaayo nang buhaton, especially ang term sa mayor three (3) years [lang] (That is very difficult to do, especially since the term of the mayor is only three years). What he can do as a mayor is to assist MCWD,” Daluz said.

Daluz outlined the ideal roles for the LGU and MCWD in water management and suggested that the LGU could focus on water generation, as it may lack the capital to develop distribution infrastructure.

READ: Luzon dams’ water levels below normal – Pagasa

In this scenario, the LGU would invest in water generation projects, with the generated water then sold to MCWD for distribution. This cooperative approach leverages the strengths of both entities, with MCWD handling distribution due to its established network of pipelines and service areas.

“Karon ang among gibuhat kay wa may tabang sa LGU, way tabang sa national, mao nang napugos ta nga makigjoint venture ta’g mga private sector kay sila man ang nay capital. [But} the ideal, LGU unta maoy mugasto aning water generation [ug] dili gyud business type ang water supply,” Daluz said.

(Now, what we are doing because we don’t have help from the LGU, no help from the national, that is why we are forced to go on a joint venture with the private sector because they are the ones who have capital. (But) the ideal, LGU should have been the one to spend for this water generation [and] the water supply should not be the business type.)

Regarding the proposed involvement of LGUs in water generation, Daluz confirmed that it had been discussed previously, particularly in Rama’s initiative to build dams. However, he noted that progress on this front had been slow.

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TAGS: Rama, water district

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