Mike to BBM: Give Cebu City a dam

·5 min read

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama will request President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to include the construction of a water impounding dam in the city as part of the National Government’s flagship projects.

In a statement posted on the Facebook page of the Cebu City Public Information Office on Friday, July 15, 2022, Rama said he is asking Marcos to construct the dam to address the need for potable water in the city.

Rama’s statement came after the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) announced its plan to impose additional water tariffs on July 1, 2023.

If MCWD’s plan pushes through, MCWD would increase its water rate by 60 percent in July 2023, with another 10 percent adjustment in 2024.

In a statement released on Thursday, July 14, Rama called MCWD’s proposed 60 percent increase “abrupt” and “rather unreasonable,” given that Cebu is still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and recent calamities.

In an interview, Rama told SunStar Cebu that he had submitted the proposal for the construction of a dam in Cebu City during the term of President Rodrigo Duterte yet.

But with the new administration and with the impending water rate hike, Rama said there is now a need to construct a dam that can help address the people’s need for water.

“This issue brings forth what I have been calling for, to build a dam that would collect abundant rainfall so that a surplus in supply would mean lower rates for the consumers. In saying that a dam project is too expensive, we have heard that song before, even as early as 1992. We had enough of that statement. When will we ever learn?” Rama said in his statement.

Help needed

“Let us refresh such project. As we first raised to President Duterte after (typhoon) Odette hit us hard, we will bring this project to the attention of President BBM for the National Government to pour its resources and help realize it,” he added.

Rama added that he will leave it to the National Government to decide which river system the dam can be constructed on.

He lamented that had the City pursued the dam project a long time ago, the government would not have to build it at its current cost, which could be billions of pesos.

Rama said he first raised the idea on January 14 this year when then National Government “Build Back Better Task Force” head and environment secretary Roy Cimatu visited to see what Malacañang could do to help the city recover from Typhoon Odette.

Rama said he handed Cimatu a letter addressed to Duterte detailing the city’s needs, which included the construction of surface water retaining systems.

In that same visit, the mayor told Cimatu that it was his “life-long dream” to build a dam to address the city’s inadequate water supply.

Dams, cisterns

Rama also instructed the City Agriculture Office to pursue the construction of gabion dams in the mountain barangays, which is one of his target accomplishments in his first 100 days in office.

On the side of the public, Rama reiterated his call for all households to have cisterns to catch rainwater, while being mindful that they would not become breeding places for mosquitoes and increase the risk of dengue.

He directed the Office of the Building Official and the Association of Barangay Councils led by Councilor Franklyn Ong to monitor and report if new buildings and houses are constructed with cisterns, as required by a city ordinance.

“I also ask our constituents to help conserve water. Rains may have been pouring these days, but it can become scarce in time,” Rama said.

In a related development, the MCWD has scheduled a series of consultative meetings with local officials, from mayors to councilors and barangay officials, to get their comment on the proposed water tariff adjustment.

In a statement sent to SunStar Cebu on Saturday, July 16, MCWD said that after the consultative meetings with local officials, they will initiate separate public hearings with consumers to lay down the proposed water tariff adjustment and its effects on their water bill.

The public hearing is the “first-step” requirement set by the Local Water Utilities Administration, the regulating agency of all water districts, prior to the submission of the application of the proposed water tariff adjustment and their subsequent review and approval process.

As of July 16, the MCWD had already conducted consultative meetings with officials of Barangays Apas, Busay and Lahug.

Last Thursday, July 14, it presented its proposed water tariff adjustment to Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, who chairs the City Council’s committee on utilities.

Projects

Despite the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the onslaught of Typhoon Odette and the ongoing global economic crisis, MCWD said it did not stop improving its capabilities and services.

Over the period of seven years, it has spent P2.1 billion on infrastructure development and incurred P12 billion in operational expenses.

Just last year, it commissioned the Compostela Bulk Water Supply Project, currently delivering 10,000 cubic meters per day to consumers in its northern service area.

By September of this year, the P1.1 billion Lusaran Bulk Water Supply Project is scheduled to deliver an additional volume of at least 15,000 cubic meters of water per day.

The project will directly benefit the residents of Barangays Busay, Lahug, Apas, Camputhaw and Capitol Site. By next year, nine mountain barangays of Cebu City will also get water from this project.

Despite several challenges facing their supply, the water tariff of MCWD has remained the same for the past seven years.

For a residential consumer with one-half inch service connection, MCWD is currently charging a minimum water fee of P152.00 for the first 10 cubic meters and additional commodity charge of P16.80 per cubic meter for consumption of 11 to 20 cubic meters, P19.80 for 21 to 30 cubic meters and P48.40 if it reaches 31 cubic meters.

Once the water tariff adjustment is fully implemented by July next year, a household consuming 10 cubic meters per month will pay P81.15 more per month or P2.71 per day.

For an average household consuming 20 cubic meters per month, it will add to its water bill P174.69 per month or P5.82 per day. (with PR)

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