By NITZ ARANCON
RIO Verde Water Consortium Inc. yesterday changed its story about how its main steel pipeline was damaged but it promised a city council panel that the firm would start fulfilling its contractual obligation by improving its supply to the Cagayan de Oro Water District before the weekend.
Engr. Jeoffrey Hapitan, Rio Verde vice president for operations, said the firm’s 700-millimeter (diameter) main pipeline was damaged as a result of the Sept. 24 earthquake.
The effects of the magnitude 5.3 earthquake in Wao, Lanao del Sur and its series of aftershocks were felt in many Mindanao areas, including this city.
He placed the damages to Rio Verde at some P50 million.
But Hapitan’s claims raised eyebrows because an earthquake was never mentioned as a factor in the nearly two-week water crisis until yesterday.
Ladelle Sagrado, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro Water District, said there was no reference to an earthquake in Rio Verde’s official communication to the COWD pertaining to the damaged pipeline. She said the Rio Verde letter originally put the blame on debris brought by strong river current because of bad weather conditions.
“There is no ‘earthquake’ in the letter,” Sagrado said.
Hapitan told the city council’s committee on public utilities that Rio Verde discovered that the pipeline was already leaking the following day.
“Pagka Sept. 26, napuwersa ko nga i-shutdown nalang gyud usa ang maong main pipe line, kay among gi-isolate ang leaking,” Hapitan said.
The 700-millimeter (diameter) main pipeline, submerged in the river near the Emmanuel Pelaez Bridge in Sitio Taguanao, Barangay Indahag, was used to pump water from Rio Verde’s water treatment plant at the Bobonawan River in Baungon, Bukidon, to COWD reservoirs in barangays Carmen and Bulua.
In Sept. 27, Rio Verde started using a one-meter (diameter) spare pipeline to deliver water to the COWD stations.
Hapitan said that reduced Rio Verde’s supply to COWD by 70 percent since Sept. 27 (based on the 40 thousand cubic meters per day provision in the Rio Verde-COWD contract).
He promised the committee chaired by Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr. that Rio Verde would supply the 40 thousand cubic meters daily requirement as stated in its contract with COWD in three days or by Friday.
He said that since Oct. 1, Rio Verde has been supplying 38 thousand of the 40-thousand cubic meter daily requirement of COWD for the western areas or 95 percent of what is provided for in the contract.
“Two thousand cubic meters per day na lang ang among kulang nga i-supply para ma-cope up namo ang among 40 thousand cubic meters per day contract sa COWD,” Hapitan said.
Sagrado said what Hapitan did not state during the committee inquiry was that the COWD was buying more than 40 thousand cubic meters a day from Rio Verde for the western parts of the city and Opol town.
Sagrado said the 40-thousand cubic meter requirement was the provision in the contract years ago, and the city’s demand for tap water has since increased.
“We’re buying more,” she said.
Engr. Bienvenido Batar Jr., COWD assistant general manager, said the ideal supply of tap water for the western areas now is 80 thousand cubic meters daily.
Batar said COWD produces 30 thousand cubic meters of the daily actual requirement through the water district’s Balulang and Calaanan water pumping stations.
With Rio Verde promising to produce 40 thousand cubic meters daily by Friday and COWD’s 30 thousand cubic meters, the daily supply for the western areas would still lack at least 10 thousand cubic meters.
Sagrado said the daily supply of 40 thousand cubic meters by Friday doesn’t guarantee improved water pressure from Rio Verde. She said the diameter of the pipeline used also factors in the water pressure.
“We understand the situation. Kabalo mi nga dako ni nga disruption sa among mga customers… We are doing what we can to restore the supply… daghan kaayong mga butang nga among gahimo-on sama sa mga water deliveries,” Batar said. (with reports from herbie gomez)