Cagayan de Oro City

Weekend water crisis leaves thousands thirsty, dry in Cagayan de Oro

Franck Dick Rosete

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Weekend water crisis leaves thousands thirsty, dry in Cagayan de Oro

WATER CRISIS. Residents line up to fetch treated water from a tanker dispatched to bring water to their village in Cagayan de Oro.

Cagayan de Oro Water District

Cagayan de Oro's primary bulk water supplier relocates its valves to allow a flood-control project to be undertaken. But leakages prompt it to undertake unscheduled repairs.

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Thousands of families in Cagayan de Oro and some parts of Misamis Oriental spent the entire weekend without a supply of tap water as the city’s biggest supplier of treated water relocated major valves due to an ongoing flood-control project by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The relocation work near the Emmanuel Pelaez Bridge in Taguanao, Barangay Indahag, started at 9 am on Saturday morning, March 2, and was scheduled to be completed at 3 pm on the same day. However, complications resulting from the discovery of pipe leakages prompted the Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Incorporated (COBI) to make major repairs until the wee hours of Monday, March 4.

Initially expected to affect only the villages of Macasandig, Camaman-an, Lapasan, and Gusa, the water supply interruption expanded to at least 16 more barangays, many in the western parts of Cagayan de Oro up to neighboring Opol town in Misamis Oriental, where many families complained of being left with little or no water for days.

COBI, a company controlled by business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, holds the biggest bulk water supply contract with the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD).

Engineer Antonio Young, COWD general manager, explained that the water supply interruption had to be extended because the bulk water supplier needed more time to repair a major pipe leak discovered after completing the valve relocation.

Young said the repairs required draining 10 kilometers of 16-inch thick water pipelines due to welding works.

“There were leakages because of the pressure – over 200 PSI (pounds per square inch). So, that’s very high,” he said.

Although the COWD, citing an assessment report from COBI, had estimated emergency repairs to be completed by 10 pm on Sunday, they lasted until the wee hours of Monday.

While some areas in the city started seeing tap water, many areas remained without a supply as of posting time.

The situation prompted the COWD, city government, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and private groups to dispatch water trucks to the hardest-hit villages, providing treated water to thousands of families.

Young apologized for the inconvenience, explaining that the realignment and subsequent repairs were necessary to facilitate the DPWH’s ongoing flood control project.

Angry consumers took to social media, criticizing the COWD and COBI for undertaking repairs on a weekend when tap water was needed the most and for the delays. Many expressed disappointment because they had expected the water supply to resume on Saturday afternoon as earlier announced. –

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