Carvajal: Water for whom?

·2 min read

When MCWD announced its decision to build three desalination plants at a combined cost of P6.3 billion, I doubted the wisdom of this decision. Next I suspected the motive behind it when MCWD started conditioning our minds to the rise in the cost of water as a result of this project.

The urban poor suffer the brunt of the city’s water shortage. Water is already expensive for them because it is not piped directly to their informal settlement areas; they have to buy it from a supplier. If water becomes more expensive because it is now desalinated sea water, the supplier will have to pass it on to them at an even higher price.

The city’s water problem should be solved for everybody but especially for those who lack it the most and pay the highest price for it, the urban poor. Subdivisions and condos of the rich have their own supply of expensive water. Still, they would welcome cheaper water from MCWD. I know I will. I live in a subdivision where water is often not there and when it’s there it’s far from cheap.

The solution, therefore, should not simply be to have more water. We should have more water that is cheap. The law of supply and demand should apply here. We should source for more water not only so we have enough but also so it becomes less expensive.

I wonder how much public consultation MCWD conducted on the desalination plants? Could we ask for full public disclosure of the other alternatives considered, if any, and the reasons for tossing them in favor of desalination?

I’m no expert and could be wrong. But it just seems like building more dams and building the water impounding structures a recent water summit recommended would give us not only more but also cheaper water. Also, shouldn’t a water treatment facility be built first?

How about our provincial and city officials exploring the feasibility of a Cebu island central water management body? Many towns have springs and waterfalls as sources of water. Instead of losing the towns’ excess water to the sea, can we not consider piping it to a central water impounding dam for distribution to areas that are experiencing water shortage?

Again I’m no expert. I’m just suggesting a solution that does not create additional problems like higher water cost and what to do with the residue salt and (toxic?) chemicals coming from desalination plants. All I am certain about is that the solution to Cebu City’s water problem should be more and cheaper and not more expensive water.

When we have a bumper harvest of rice or corn, the prices of these commodities go down. When we have more livestock production, the prices of meat go down. Why can’t we source for more water so its price goes down? For whom is the expensive water?