Cebu City mayor revives call for dam project for water supply

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CEBU City Mayor Michael L. Rama is reviving his request to the national government to build a dam for reliable and sustainable water supply after the city’s distributor announced last week a plan to increase rates by 70% starting July 2023.  

“This issue brings to forth what I have been calling for, to build a dam that would collect abundant rainfall so that a surplus in supply would mean lower rates for the consumers,” Mr. Rama said in a statement on Friday.   

Citing a presentation from the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), he said the planned tariff adjustment would mean a 60% increase by July 2023 and 10% by July 2024.  

The mayor noted that he initially proposed the dam project earlier this year after the city was among the areas hit hardest by typhoon Odette in mid-December last year.  

“Let us refresh such project. As we first raised to President (Rodrigo R.) Duterte after (typhoon) Odette hit us hard, we will bring this project to the attention of President BBM (Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.) for the national government to pour its resources and help realize it,” he said. 

The proposal also included the construction of surface water retaining systems as part of the national government’s “recovery assistance” to the city.  

Mr. Rama has also directed the City Agriculture Office to work on the construction of gabion dams in remote parts of the city, which would help slow down the flow of water in rain runoff channels or ditches.  

He said this is part of the target accomplishments within his administration’s first 100 days from July 1. 

He has also directed the city council to hold public consultations on MCWD’s planned rate hike.  

The mayor also asked MCWD to reassess its proposal and implement the increase over a longer period.   

“I ask the MCWD Board to further review its planned imposition of new tariff and consider seeking adjustments, only if it must, on a staggered basis to spare the consumers any adverse effects until 2025,” he said.  

MCWD, a self-sustaining government-owned and controlled corporation, last increased rates in 2015.   

Water districts are regulated by the Local Water Utilities Administration, including rates setting.   

The utility is currently constructing a P1.1-billion bulk water supply project, which is expected to be operational by September.   

Cebu City, the regional hub of Central Visayas in central Philippines, is part of the Metro Cebu area which is the second biggest urban district in the country after the capital region Metro Manila. — MSJ