By LITO RULONA
and NITZ ARANCON
THE Cagayan de Oro Water District did not maximize and develop the potentials of the city’s abundant supply of ground water.
This was what an executive of the Cagayan de Oro Water Technologies and Development Corp. told the city council on Monday as the city’s legislature suspended its rules in order to hear his take on the water crisis that recently gripped the city.
“There are two types freshwater sources in Cagayan de Oro — underground and surface water,” said Dr. Raleigh Velez, the firm’s chief executive officer. “[The] underground water of Cagayan de Oro was not properly developed by COWD.”
Velez explained that it is more expensive to treat river water than ground water, the reason why the current bulk water supplier could not afford to lower its price.
Velez’s firm has offered to sell treated bulk water to COWD for as low as P8 per cubic meter, half of what supplier Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. is demanding from the water district. COWD has agreed to buy treated water from a new player, the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned Metro Pacific Water Investments, for over P16 per cubic meter.
Velez said an initial study made showed that the city still has a vast supply of ground water that it is possible to tap and sell it to COWD for only P8 per cubic meter.
He assured that his company can build a state-of-the-art processing plant and start supplying to COWD in six months.
“I hope that we will have the chance to prove that we are worthy as Cagayanons,” Velez said.
Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya said he doubted Velez’s claims about the city’s groundwater sources, explaining that when he was chairman of the city council’s committee on public utilities, he was informed by the COWD that it didn’t want to “abuse the deposits.”
“That is why they tapped another source, and accepted Rio Verde’s offer,” Nacaya said.
The controversial deal between COWD and Rio Verde happened during the Emano administration.
Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr. said it was time to break the monopoly in the bulk water supply in the city and allow other companies to offer bulk water supply to the COWD.
Lao said Cagayan de Oro Water Technologies’ offer would prove to be advantageous to Cagayan de Oro and even in Opol, Misamis Oriental. He said COWD should look into the offer of Velez’s company.
Lao said Velez’s company is a new firm that is being run by Cagayanons with expertise in producing treated water. “Gikan nanarbaho sa mga dagkong water company sa atong nasud. Nag-grupo sila ug naghimog bag-ong company. Bo-ot pasabot nga mga expert ni sila sa pag-supply sa tubig.”
He said he would schedule a committee meeting with Velez’s group and COWD executives.