Cebu water firm eyes new dam, desalination to augment supply

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The water body here plans to develop a new dam at the remaining water source in the hinterland and desalinate seawater for human consumption to augment the water supply of Metro Cebu’s aquifer.

Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) chair Joel Mari Yu said a new dam at the Mananga River in the mountain barangay of Camp 4 in Talisay City was the most potent solution to the city’s water needs..

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 in a radio interview on Tuesday.

The biggest challenge, however, is the relocation of 800 to 1,000 informal settlers living along Mananga’s riverbanks, he said.

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 (We need the support of local government officials. There are settlers in Mananga who need to be relocated). 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 said.

Under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, the new dam will be built at no cost to the government.

Yu said at least 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.

The water body, Yu said, is 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 (That is exclusive of the machine, supply, and salary),” 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 Barangay Buhisan in the south district of this city. (PNA)