By NITZ ARANCON
THE group that is planning to give the Cagayan de Oro Water District competition has an initial capital investment of P200 million, an amount that is just a drop in the bucket compared to what COWD has already invested in its nearly half a century of existence.
Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr. over the weekend said the city council’s public utilities committee that he chairs already gave the group, Metro Cagayan de Oro Water Service Cooperative, the go-ahead to process its papers so it could compete with COWD.
But “competition” may not be an appropriate word to use given that the ambitious plan to break the COWD monopoly is not going to be a walk in the park for the new cooperative — and it cannot be done overnight.
Manny dela Peña, chairman of the Regional Cooperative Council and one of those behind the plan to establish a second tap water distributor in the city, said some 15 cooperatives have pooled their resources in an effort to raise a P200 million as initial investment for the Metro Cagayan de Oro Water Service.
Dela Peña said the fund would be used to build a water treatment plant, a water pumping station and for water distribution infrastructure.
The cooperatives include the Oro Integrated Cooperative, First Community Cooperative, Oro Savings and Sharing Cooperative, Del Monte cooperative and city hall’s employees’ cooperative.
The P200 million initial capital Investment has been declared in the articles of incorporation submitted to the National Water Resources Board in the group’s application for a franchise.
Metro Cagayan de Oro Water Service has been given the green light by the Cooperative Development authority.
But P200 million is not a lot of money if compared to how much COWD has been spending for its operations and maintenance alone: an average of P900 million a year.
Engr. Benvienido Batar Jr., COWD assistant general manager for administration, said a P200-million investment could build a few water pumping stations.
Batar said one station capable of producing three thousand cubic meters a day would amount to some P10 million. This excludes the cost of boosters, operational costs and land acquisition. Compare that to COWD’s demand of 60 thousand cubic meters a day for the western part of its service area alone. The present bulk water supplier, Cagayan de Oro Bulkwater Inc., could only deliver a daily supply of 40 thousand cubic meters as of the moment.
“Gasto lang kini sa drilling, water pump, electrical equipment, transmission pipe gikan sa imong water pumping station to reservoir ug wala pay labot ni-ana ang yuta nga ma-oy site sa imong pumping station ug booster pump,” he said.
COWD chairman Eduardo Montalvan earlier welcomed the potential competition, saying that the Supreme Court already ruled that water districts don’t have exclusive rights to distribute treated water.
Batar said COWD has no problems with the prospects of facing competition except that it is concerned on where the cooperative planned to draw its water supply from.
“Kon ground water lang gihapon ang ilang source, mag-doble na ang atong extraction sa atong underground water kay usa ra man ang atong source,” he said.
Batar also pointed out that installation of water distribution pipes would be a gargantuan task, not to mention that “mag-doble na ang installation sa mga pipe.”
Installing new water pipes would mean another round of road diggings.