Cagayan de Oro City

Water district advises Cagayan de Oro consumers to prepare for supply disruption

Franck Dick Rosete

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Water district advises Cagayan de Oro consumers to prepare for supply disruption

REFILL. A city hall worker refills water containers to help residents in need of water during a recent supply interruption in Cagayan de Oro.

Cagayan de Oro City Information Office

The Cagayan de Oro Water District prepares to tap other sources of treated water due to a notice of disconnection it received from its primary supplier

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Water consumers in the city panicked as the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) released a public advisory urging people to store water in case its primary supplier makes good on its threat to stop supplying it with treated water due to a disputed debt claim.

The supplier, Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Incorporated (COBI), has given the COWD until Friday, April 12, to pay over P400 million for the water supply, which has accumulated since 2021 – a debt the water district refused to acknowledge.

Engineer Antonio Young, COWD general manager, said they advised water consumers in Cagayan de Oro and parts of Misamis Oriental to store tap water in anticipation of a likely 24-hour supply interruption.

Young said the 24-hour period would give the COWD enough time to transition and tap other bulk water suppliers.

The COWD said it has prepared to deliver water to certain areas of the city in collaboration with the city government, the Bureau of Fire Protection, and other groups.

It said water bladders and steel tanks will be set up in strategic areas.

The COWD also said valving schemes to channel supply to affected areas will be implemented in case COBI discontinues its supply to the water district.

Villages identified by the COWD to be adversely affected include Pagatpat, Canitoan, Upper Balulang, Upper Carmen, Patag, Bulua, Iponan, Kauswagan, Bonbon, Bayabas, and portions of Lumbia.

In the city’s second district, the COWD said the water supply in the villages of Camaman-an, Lapasan, and portions of Gusa, Cugman, and Macasandig would be affected.

The COWD also said the neighboring villages of Igpit and Barra in Opol town, Misamis Oriental, would likely be impacted.

The advisory was met with public criticisms directed at COWD and COBI, a firm controlled by business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Water, due to their failure to reach a settlement.

COBI, which supplies some 80,000 cubic meters of treated water to the COWD daily, has been pressuring the water district to pay a debt of more than P400 million, which mostly represents the accumulated price difference since COBI implemented an increase in its water rates in 2021.

The COWD refused to acknowledge and pay the amount, invoking a force majeure clause in their 2017 contract. The water district argued that the COBI rate increase during the COVID-19 pandemic was unacceptable.

Mae Shanne Angelic Siglos, a water consumer from Barangay Bonbon, said, “It wouldn’t be fair for people to suffer just because the COWD and COBI couldn’t reach an agreement.”

She said her family has been paying the COWD on time because the last thing they wanted was a disconnection notice.

“Unya karon tungod kay wala sila nagbayad sa ilang dues sa pagkuha nila sa water supply, kami na gyud ang mag-antos,” Siglos said on Friday, April 12. 

(Now, since they have not been paying their dues to their source of water, we will be the ones to suffer.)

She appealed to COWD and COBI to find a solution for the sake of the city’s water consumers.

Lawyer Roberto Rodrigo, senior legal counsel for Metro Pacific Water, told Rappler on Thursday that COBI has not yet decided to resort to disconnection with finality.

“We will only resort to cutting the water supply as our last option… That’s why we would like to give the water district every chance,” Rodrigo said.

He said COBI executives were still looking forward to meeting with their COWD counterparts along with representatives from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) before Saturday, April 13. –

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