Ensuring water security for the emerging city of tomorrow

April 5, 2019


• Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro master plan for sustainable urban infrastructure


A SUSTAINABLE water supply is one of the priorities in the Master Plan for the Sustainable Infrastructure Development of Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro now being formulated by the National Economic Development Authority Region 10.
As defined by the College of Engineering and Applied Science of the University of Colorado Denver, urban infrastructure refers to engineered systems such as water, energy, transport, sanitation, and information that make up a city.
However, challenges’ resulting from increasing population growth foresees a need for sustainable infrastructure that is high performing, cost-effective, resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly. (UCD, 2015)

In the construction and physical and organizational structures that enable cities to function, meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the capabilities of the future generations is paramount. (Tiwari, 2016).
Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro is included in the Philippine Development Plan of 2017-2022 which envisions Region 10’s role in National Development with the emergence of Metro CDO as the Philippines’ 4th Metropolitan Center by 2025 as a major gateway & trans-shipment hub, and Key educational center with potential growth in the banana industry, rubber, bamboo, cacao, coco coir, coffee, agribusiness, and tourism.
With a total population of 1, 219, 005 as of 2015 and total land area of 2,221, 13 square kilometers, Metro CDO initially includes Cagayan de Oro and El Salvador cities in Misamis Oriental, eleven municipalities in Misamis Oriental (Initao, Gitagum, Libertad, Laguindingan, Alubijid, Opol, Tagoloan, Villanueva, Jasaan, Claveria, and Balingasag) and six municipalities in Bukidnon (Manolo Fortich, Baungon, Sumilao, Malitbog, Libona, and Talakag).
“Originally 11 municipalities and 2 cities were involved but the configuration of Metro CDO has evolved,” said NEDA 10 Regional Director Mylah Faye B. Cariño. “More municipalities are being considered.”
Population trends indicate Metro CDO will have a total population of 1,382,574 on 2.73 growth rate by 2020, to grow further to a populace of 1,559,475 on 1.28 growth rate by 2025.
Perhaps no entity appreciates the challenges presented by this metropolization better than the Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD) which has often been criticized for not being able to keep up with the demand for water in the booming metropolis.
At present, COWD provides water services to 64 of Cagayan de Oro’s 80 barangays, 7 of Opol, Misamis Oriental’s 14 barangays, and Barangay, Casinglot in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
COWD General Manager Bienvenido V. Batar, Jr. acknowledges the enormity of the challenge facing the water district in keeping up with the growing demand for water in Cagayan de Oro.
“COWD relies solely on its water sales to fund its operations and implement improvements and expansion projects,” Batar noted.  He said COWD does not receive any form of subsidy from either the local or national government.
“For instance, even an extension of our service to one upland barangay like Indahag would already require a capital outlay of P300-million, which is currently beyond our means since we still have outstanding loans to the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) to settle,” Batar said.
To rectify this situation, COWD has formed a joint venture company, Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Inc. (COBI) with MetroPac Water Investments Corporation (MWIC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation to undertake the supply of bulk treated water to address the increasing demand of Cagayan de Oro City.
The project has a term of 30 years, renewable for another 20 years, and involves the supply of up to 100 MLD of treated bulk water, as well as construction of transmission lines and rehabilitation of the Camaman-an Reservoir to supply the COWD, which currently has about 100,000 service connections serving some 700,000 residents.
During groundbreaking rites for a new pipeline held last August, 2018 at Barangay Camaman-an,  COWD Chairman of the Board of Directors Eduardo Montalvan said the water district is targeting a 24/7 water supply for every household regardless of their location in the city.
“We have been receiving complaints from various parts of the city that water is only available during certain times of the day,” Montalvan said in Bisayan. “With this project, we are striving to catch up to make sure water supply is available to anyone in the city during all times of the day.”
At present, COWD has estimated water demand in the East Service Area at 114.456MLD) which is barely covered by its 17 production wells in Barangays Bugo, Agusan, Tablon, Macasandig and Nazareth.
With the commissioning of the new pipeline, total supply for the East Area has risen 17.5% with an additional 20MLD from the COBI bulk water plant in Baungon, Bukidnon and further by 15% with an additional 20MLD by 2020.
“But this is not the end; we still have more projects to implement after this. Now we are catching up with the progress of the rest of the city, we will try even harder to keep pace and stay ahead by providing clean and safe water for all residents of the city,” Montalvan assured.
Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno acknowledged the import and historicity of the ground breaking event for the city’s future.
“This is a breakthrough and milestone which will propel Cagayan de Oro to a greater advantage that we really deserve. I cannot thank MWIC and COWD enough for doing what should have been done 20 years ago when CDO was starting to grow,” Moreno said.
“Now we have this chance to rectify the past. Cagayan de Oro will never be a team without the water district. The water district is very, very essential. In the same manner that all other utilities are essential. We need the COWD to grow; we need the COWD to be even ahead of the city’s growth.”
After the pipeline, COWD activated its Camaman-an Reservoir last November 9, 2018 after a P26 million Retrofitting and Waterproofing restored the facility after it had lain idle for some time.
With a storage capacity of 5,300,000 liters, the facility boosted water supply and pressure in barangays Camaman-an, Gusa, and Lapasan, especially within the Limketkai Center central business district.
The new pipeline and reservoir improved water pressure and supply to the East Service area was originally planned for completion by June 2019 was finished ahead of schedule.
The facility will initially supply an additional 20 million liters daily (MLD) of treated potable water to benefit the East Service Area from Barangays Lapasan to Tablon, (including Camaman-an) during its first phase, to be augmented by an additional 20 MLD during the second phase.
“The reactivation of this facility will help address the increasing demand for water supply in Cagayan de Oro City,” said Rodrigo O. Yabut, COBI general manager.
By the third quarter of 2019, some 50,000 households or an estimated 300,000 people stand to benefit from a new pipeline that will service the COWDS’s East Service Area from Barangays Lapasan to Bugo.
“The 600 millimeter (mm) steel pipeline will carry treated water from the COBI bulk water treatment plant in Baungon, Bukidnon to the eastern part of the service area,” Batar said. “Ultimately, this pipeline will carry 40 MLD and increase our capability to deliver water service to areas such as Taguanao, Mandumol, Upper Cugman, Upper Gusa, and Camaman-an.”
“This will also help us balance the existing supply from Macasandig and Bugo, and improve water service in the entire eastern part of the city,” Batar added.
The P251-million cost for the nine kilometer pipeline and the Camaman-an Reservoir retrofitting and waterproofing is entirely underwritten by (MWIC) but the facility would be turned over to and operated by COWD upon its completion under its joint venture Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water, Inc. (COBI).
The COWD has attained significant milestones since July 2016 when Mayor Moreno started his second term as Cagayan de Oro City Mayor.
Facility wise, the COWD’s pipeline network increased 12 kms. from 553.614 kms to 565.852, its production wells increased from 26 to 28 and while the number of reservoirs remained at 7, the Camaman-an reservoir has been rehabilitated and activated at no cost to the water district.
These facility improvements have enabled the COWD to increase its bulk water supply to its East Service Area from zero to 20MLD and supply from production wells from 86 to 91MLD. Similarly, bulk water supply to the West Service Area increased from 40MLD to 60MLD, more than compensating from the minimal decline in production wells volume from 34 to 33.
In toto, bulk water supply to the entire service area increased from 40 to 80MLD while production wells volume similarly rose from 120 to 124MLD, resulting in a net gain of 44MLD (+27.5%) to 204MLD.
These improvements have enabled COWD to increase its number of residential and government concessionaires from 83,430 to 91,629; commercial/industrial connections from 6,038 to 6,595, thus increasing its number of active service connections from 89,468 to 98,348 and consequently, the number of residents served from  89,468 to 700,000.
COWD has previously undertaken various expansion projects to improve water supply to existing and heretofore unserved and underserved areas of the city.
Its Phase I improvements with a P32M loan from the Local Water Utilities Administration
(LWUA) completed in 1978 included the construction of the Macasandig Booster Pumping Station, Bugo Pumping Station and wells, and transmission lines, enabling COWD to provide water to the residents of Gusa, Cugman, Kauswagan, Bayabas, Bonbon, Patag and Bulua.
In 1983, COWD’s water services reached barangays Balulang, Calaanan and Mandumol with the P95M-worth Phase II Improvement Project, followed by a third phase initiated in 1996 and completed in 2005.
This included the drilling of 22 deep wells; construction of 12 pumping stations and 3 reservoirs; purchase of 17 standby power generators; laying out of 23-kilometer steel transmission pipes and 69-kilometer uPVC distribution pipes and installation of 26,000 service connections.
This phase added 70 MLD to its water production and enabled COWD to serve another 203,000 people or 46,200 households in Cagayan de Oro City and the nearby municipality of Opol.
Not the least, COWD entered into a Bulk Water Supply Agreement with Rio Verde Water Consortium which started providing an additional 40MLD in 2007.



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