By LITO RULONA
THE Cagayan de Oro Water District is preparing to bring Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. to court in an effort to prevent it from making good its threat to cut down the water pressure, the public utility firm’s general manager disclosed yesterday.
Engr. Rachel Beja revealed this even as she said the COWD is firm on its decision not to accede to Rio Verde’s rate-increase demand.
Rio Verde earlier threatened to reduce the water pressure unless COWD agreed to increase its payment for treated water from P10.45 to P16.35 per cubic meter effective this month.
Beja said the COWD management and board were one in the decision to reject the Rio Verde demand, citing a pending case for contract nullification the water district filed against the Jose Alvarez-owned firm and a Commission on Audit order.
Beja said the COWD is expecting a court decision on the case on Dec. 4.
“Pagka-dawat namo sa sulat, mibalos kami nga dili namo mahatag because of the disallowance order [from COA] and the nullification case. Our legal [department] also advised us that our legal remedy if they (Rio Verde) would insist is another legal battle in court,” she said.
For starters, she said, the COWD board has already approved a proposal to ask a court to issue temporary restraining order against Rio Verde’s plan to cut down the water pressure.
Rio Verde’s plan, she said, would cause a “water interference and no supply of water” in elevated areas.
“Pungan gyud sila sa korte sa ilang plano,” Beja said.
The COWD is dependent on Rio Verde in supplying some 60 percent of the city’s tap water consumers. The supply for the remaining 40 percent comes from COWD’s own ground sources.
Without the supply of treated water from Rio Verde, the COWD would lose at least 40,000 cubic meters a day, adversely affecting some 30 thousand water connections in elevated villages like Lumbia and other western areas, including barangays Bulua and Iponan, and the town of Opol in Misamis Oriental.
In the event that Rio Verde makes good its threat, Beja said, “What we can do is only an augmentation ratio delivery.”
Beja said the COWD would put in place water tanks and ask the Bureau of Fire Protection for help in the delivery of treated water to key areas.
She said all fire hydrants in the western areas would also be opened to the public, and COWD would install five public faucets in each of the affected areas.
“Kini para gyud nga mahatagan og chance ang mga tawo nga affected,” she said.
Beja maintained that the water district cannot legally pay Rio Verde more given that the audit commission has ordered the COWD-Rio Verde contract voided.
She revealed that a “fraud audit” was made by COA. “Sa maong COA fraud audit nag-order na nga ipa-nullify ang maong contract with Rio Verde. This is the legal reason ngano nga dili na mapatuman sa COWD ang maong mga rate increases,” Beja said.
Beja’s pronouncements came after COWD officials and consumers became worried because of the low water pressure on weekend.
The flow at COWD’s take-off point dropped to zero with a -0.5m inline pressure. The result: there was no water supply in Lumbia, those along Masterson Avenue, Silver Creek, Bellevue Subd., Pagatpat and Canitoan, and Opol town while the pressure was low in barangays Carmen, Kauswagan, Bayabas, Bonbon, Patag, Bulua and Iponan and elevated portions.
The initial fear was that Rio Verde made good its threat. But later, COWD said it was notified by the bulk water supplier that it was due to a leaking pipe, and that it was repaired on Sunday.