Cagayan de Oro City needs to move forward and apply basic solutions to address its current water supply problems instead of bickering to find a scapegoat for the ongoing brouhaha over the quality of its current water services to its consumers.

In a radio interview over Strong Radio with anchor Patrick Tablon in the program Strong Headlines & Views, aired Thursday, March 7, Engr. Joffrey E. Hapitan, President and General Manager of Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. (Rio Verde) suggested that the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) and its majority partner in its joint venture firm Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water, Inc. (COBI) focus on improving their water services to Kagay-anon households instead of bickering over bulk water rates.

Engr. Joffrey E. Hapitan takes the floor during the March 7 public hearing of the Cagayan de Oro Special Task Force on Water Supply and Distribution held March 7 at the Cagayan de Oro City Council Session Hall. (screen grabs from Strong Radion 90.5)

“Let’s move forward instead of nitpicking who is responsible for the current water crisis,” Hapitan said. “To do this, COBI and COWD  should strengthen their internal relations and address their system problems jointly as joint venture partners. The LGU can allow all interested and capable water suppliers to come in to directly serve our households in unserved, underserved and served areas.”

As the primary water supplier to households, business and commercial establishments in Cagayan de Oro City, COWD and COBI need to repair/replace the aging pipelines, fix the leaks promptly, and reactive the idle reservoirs to enable these to distribute water for at least 2 days in case of water interruptions.

Irate residents queue up for water from water tankers provided by the city government and civic minded companies during the extended water interruption last weekend allegedly caused by leaking pipes. (photos from Rolando Uy FB Page)

If any repairs on the valves and pipelines are needed, COWD should prepare for it by strengthening their distribution system, repair leaks, activate the reservoirs and its deep walls in times of water interruptions so as not to inconvenience the consumers.

“Basically they need to address these basic issues instead of passing their rate row to the LGU which has no power to address it, and to the court of public opinion which can do nothing to fix it,” Hapitan noted.

“What the LGU can do is allow more suppliers to address the supply problem. Like what we already have in Indahag, Gusa and Camama-an with Kyogoho and JE Hydro. Consumers have a choice to decide on whom to get their supply from. Many have connections from two suppliers.”

Earlier, Rio Verde requested the city council to pass a resolution of no objection to its plan to distribute potable water directly to Kagay-anon households.

“Rio Verde is offering no minimum charge.  You only pay for the actual volume of water you use,” Hapitan clarified.

He compared the current practice of most households in the city where they buy filtered water from water refilling stations at P1/liter, or P1,000 per cubic meter. In contrast, Rio Verde will have no minimum charge and will only charge for the actual consumption at the rate of 3.5 centavos per liter or P35 per cubic meter.

“You don’t use any water, no charge. Why don’t people complain about the expensive price they are paying for from refilling stations and complain about any price increase whenever COBI or COWD apply for a rate increase? So let the people decide where they will buy their drinking water from.”

Should Rio Verde be allowed to distribute water directly to households, they will build more water treatment plants because the existing 100MLD plant is already contracted to supply bulk water to COWD and COBI.

“Once we are given the go signal by the city council, I will immediately start construction of more water treatment plants (WTPs) in strategic places which can supply water directly to Kagay-anon households 24/7 whenever they need it.”

He cited the track record of his JE Hydro & Bio-Energy Corporation (JEHBEC), the tech provider for Rio Verde, which has already constructed water treatment plants all over the Philippines.

The 10 MLD water treatment plant of South Balibago Resources, Inc. in Bulao, Iponan, Cagayan de Oro City was designed and built by JE Hydro & Bio Energy Corporation. (photos by Haz Abasolo)

“We constructed the WTP for South Balibago in Bgy Iponan, we also have a WTP plant in Indahag,  independent of Rio Verde. Once the city council passes our requested resolution of no objection, we will immediately construct new WTPs and pipelines outside the present COWD system.”

Hapitan further noted that Rio Verde already has approved water permits for a huge volume of water which is more than sufficient to provide for the water needs of Cagayan de Oro in the years to come, regardless of whether the consumer is located in areas now unserved or served by COWD.

The raw water for the Indahag water treatment plant of JE Hydro comes from the pristine Bubunawan River. It is a class “A” river with an average flow of 1.4 million cubic meters per day. Its catchment basin is part of Mt. Kitanglad, a protected national park which makes the Bubunawan River a very reliable and sustainable water source.

“Our request for a resolution of no objection allowing Rio Verde to distribute potable water directly to households is still pending with the city council. Recall that the Supreme Court way back in 2007 already has jurisprudence based on the constitutional provision regarding the provision of safe drinking water to all as a fundamental human right with no monopoly of franchise.”

Hapitan explained that the resolution is needed to apply for a pipe laying permit with the City Engineer’s Office.

“The LGU can allow all interested and capable water suppliers to come in to directly serve households in unserved, underserved and served areas. Let the consumer decide where he will get his water from. It is his prerogative to decide what price and supplier suits him most,  because basically his problem is he either has little water or no water at all, that’s why he is making  a fuss about the price and not getting the service he deserves for what he is  now paying for,” he added.


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