Cebu’s water district records almost 9,000 system leakages in 2022

John Sitchon

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Cebu’s water district records almost 9,000 system leakages in 2022

REPAIR. MCWD personnel fix a transmission line leak near Cebu City Medical Center in Cebu City.

Photo from MCWD’s official Facebook page

Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) general manager Edgar Donoso tells Rappler that they are allotting up to P1 billion for the renewal of pipes that have been in service for more than 25 years

CEBU, Philippines – The Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) revealed on Thursday, August 10, that in 2022, there were 8,974 incidents of pipe leakages in several service areas in the province.

Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) general manager Edgar Donoso told Rappler in an interview that a portion of the leaks found were from previous years that were not immediately acted upon.

“About 60% to 70% of that was acted upon and was carried to another year considering the fact that manpower did not complement 100% of the total activity of leaks,” Donoso said.

The general manager attributed the problem to wear and tear due to high pressure from large volumes of water coming into the system and damage to underground pipes caused by drilling operations by project contractors of telephone companies and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). 

Recently, state auditors flagged a P353.28 million loss in MCWD’s revenue between 2020 and 2022 due to problems related to leakages and pipe damage.

The MCWD has since been hiring more personnel for their detection and repair teams and allotting a budget to upgrade facilities and pipes to address these problems.

As of December 31, 2022, MCWD has repaired leaks from 650 mainline pipes, 2,680 service connection pipes, 4,439 meter stands, 927 stub outs, and 278 meter stand bump-offs.

Large volumes

“We’re really working on our pipes because at present, it’s not capable of accepting large volumes of water,” Donoso told Rappler.

According to Donoso, MCWD’s water system can carry between 20,000 to 25,000 cubic meters of water per day. 

The water district is currently receiving an additional daily supply of 20,000 cubic meters of water from its Cordova plant, 25,000 cubic meters from its Canjulao plant, and 30,000 cubic meters from its Marigondon plant.

“That’s 75,000 cubic meters and we don’t have a pipe yet that can carry that so we’re really going to expand our existing facilities to carry that,” Donoso said.

Donoso added that they are budgeting P800 million to P1 billion to carry out the expansion. 

Costly repairs

In order to fix the leaks, the MCWD must spend a daily average of P50,000 for labor, equipment, and materials necessary for the repairs.

At present, MCWD works with three leak detection teams, which consist of six personnel who carry two leak detection equipment.

When a report of a leak is sent to MCWD, a leak detection team is sent to the area mentioned in the report. After an initial assessment is made, a repair team is sent to fix the pipes.

Depending on the nature of the leakage, Donoso said, repair time may be prolonged.

The general manager noted that the main challenge when conducting repairs is securing a permit from the concerned local government unit (LGU) and the DPWH, which may take three to five days if the area of the leak is on the main road. 

“As one of the largest water districts in the Philippines, we are trying to be the model of addressing non-revenue water because we have the technical expertise. Hopefully, we also get financial support, but until now, our [petition for] water rates increase has yet to be approved,” Donoso said.

Since 2015, the water district collects a minimum water fee of P152 for the first 10 cubic meters of water consumed, or P15.20 per cubic meter from residential consumers.

For comparison, Manila Water collects P192.42 per 10 cubic meters per month from residential consumers.

Coordination needed

“Lately, we found out that in Lapu-Lapu for example, there were three transmission lines there that got holes caused by backhoes of private contractors,” Donoso said.

The water district head stressed the need for coordination among LGUs, utility companies, and the MCWD to help resolve and prevent accidents that result in pipe damage.

Donoso said the water district is creating a team that would monitor the excavation activities of utility companies to immediately react to instances of pipe damage and leakage.

Donoso added that the public can also help with the challenges that the water district is facing.

“I just want to encourage the people to save water, use it wisely, and help us address non-revenue water by reporting it immediately to our office,” Donoso said. –

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