CEBU CITY – To augment the water supply of Metro Cebu’s aquifer, the water body here plans to develop a new dam at the remaining water source in the hinterland and desalinate seawater for human consumption.
Joel Mari Yu, chairman of Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD), said the most immediate measure the body could undertake is to build a new dam at the Mananga River in the mountain village of Camp 4 in Talisay City.
The new dam will impound remaining upland freshwater and is projected to generate an additional 80,000 cubic meters of water supply per day, enough to cover the rising demand in the metropolis, Yu said.
The biggest challenge he noted, however, is the relocation of 800 to 1,000 informal settlers living along Mananga’s riverbanks.
Yu said the support of the provincial government and the cities of Cebu and Talisay is critical in undertaking the new dam project. “Kinahanglan mi og suporta sa local government officials. Daghan kaayo mga tawo nagpuyo sa Mananga nga kinahanglan i-relocate. That can be a very big social issue,” he said.
“We need the support of the mayors in the affected areas, and of the governor that they will not stand in the way by siding with the people who would not want to get relocated,” he added.
Under the public-private partnership scheme, the new dam will be built at no cost to the government and Yu said three giant conglomerates have shown interest in constructing the project. Although expensive, MCWD is also embarking on desalination or the processing of seawater to make it potable.
Yu said they are ready to bid out the desalination machine in two months’ time after finalizing the terms of reference in implementing the project.
He explained that transforming a cubic meter of seawater into potable water through desalination requires three kilowatt-hours of electric power. “If an average cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour is P11, you need at least P33 pesos for one cubic meter of seawater. Wa pa nay labot sa makinarya, suplay, suweldo,” Yu said.
Some big companies in Lapu-Lapu City are already processing seawater to cope with their operational needs, he noted. Yu also said a tunnel can be built to divert water from the west coast down to Metro Cebu.To date, MCWD has a dam in Buhisan village. (John Rey Saavedra)
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