By NITZ ARANCON
THE Cagayan de Oro Water District yesterday said it was unaware about where exactly its former bulk water supplier sourced its water, pointing out that it was a matter outside its terminated decade-old contract with the company.
Engr. Rachel Beja, COWD general manager, explained this after the National Irrigation Administration revealed that it had a 2013 agreement with Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. for the supply of water from a NIA irrigation canal in Baungon, Bukidnon.
A NIA official said Rio Verde paid the government 13 centavos and subsequently, 17 centavos for every cubic meter of irrigation canal water, treated and then sold this to COWD. The NIA-Rio Verde agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2017, the same day the bulk water supplier and COWD terminated their 2004 contract.
Beja said the now terminated COWD-Rio Verde contract had a provision about the supply of 40 thousand cubic meters of treated surface water a day but exactly where Rio Verde drew its raw water was no longer COWD’s concern.
She said she has no information about Rio Verde’s tapping point in Pualas, Baungon town in Bikidnon.
But Beja recalled that in 2012, a COWD team visited the Rio Verde plant and saw a Rio Verde pipe towards an area where a NIA irrigation canal was located.
Beja however stressed that the water in the irrigation canal was relatively clean, and if Rio Verde used it, it was treated. She said the irrigation water came from the Bubunawan River.
“Canal man gyud gihapoy tawag anang imo siyang himo-an ang dalan, pero ang insaktong tawag gyud anang irrigation canal, channel of water. Dili siya hugaw nga tubig nga sama anang atong kanal dinhi nga polos lapok,” said Beja.
Engr. Bienvenido Batar, COWD assistant general manager, told this paper on Thursday that he was aware that Rio Verde’s source of water was NIA, explaining that NIA owns the water rights of a portion of Bubunawan River “and they have a structure built there.”
But Batar said he was unaware of the NIA-COWD contract.
“What I thought was NIA assigned to Rio Verde a portion of the water rights which they were not using. This is what usually happens,” he said.
Meanwhile, Beja said COWD was informed that a landslide in Baungon the day storm “Vinta” made landfall on Dec. 22, 2017 affected Rio Verde’s intake, prompting the company to use its another facility upstream near the NIA area.
“Sa among nasabtan, na-a silay gi-operate kadtong ilang da-an nga infiltration gallery sa Pualas,” Beja.
According to NIA acting regional manager Leonila Tenestrano, the December landslide clogged an eight-meter portion of the irrigation canal, adversely affecting Rio Verde’s operations, just days before it terminated its decade-old contract with COWD.
Despite the termination of the contract, Rio Verde’s treated water continues to reach COWD — the new bulk water supplier, Cagayan de Oro Bulkwater Inc., buys it from Rio Verde and then sells it to COWD.