Plenty of water for Bacolod

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

THE rosy picture is that the population of Bacolod is rising fast. Latest reports say that the Commission on Election is expecting to register an additional 12,000 voters while the city’s population is inching beyond 700,000. Business is growing as well and new large buildings and residential subdivisions are rising in unlikely places.

The thorny question is where these people will be getting water for laundry, bath, and cleaning and flushing and watering of plants. Many homes have deep wells, we have noted before but where will the others draw water considering that a deep well is very expensive to install and consumes a lot of costly electricity?

Students onboard and lodging in Bacolod bring their laundry home but that also means not having to wash during the weekdays.

The availability of potable water is a crisis in Bacolod but city officials and even businessmen do not open their mouths as if all is well and dandy. Of course, politicians and businessmen have money so they can draw their water from either underground buy in bulk. The malls are reported to be getting priority delivery from the Bacolod City Water District and even ships anchored in Bacolod can get water from the district at any time. They have money for delivery by tankers.

Over a billion pesos have been expended for the water needs of Bacolod and in fact the concessionaires are still paying but the promised water has not been delivered and city officials are not asking the reason from this scandalous situation. The reason is simple: people pay whatever the cost just to have water.

And so, since several years ago, the percentage of Baciwa water service had remained the same – not beyond 40% of need. Even the entry of the Bacolod Bulk Water Inc. has not eased the need, not even the reported water from Murcia. The number of people needing water appears to grow faster than Baciwa’s capability to supply.

Is there a shortage of water sources? None that we can think of because there are indeed many springs waiting to be tapped. More so there are several proposals to supply Baciwa with water and these have all submitted intents to Baciwa. If we add the fact that the credit status of Baciwa is good and pays its loans on time, then we wonder what the problem is. There are malicious suspicions but that is beyond our scope unless documents are presented.

So, why is Baciwa foot-dragging in acting on these proposals that in fact do not require any capital investments on its part? What are the officials of Baciwa waiting for? They will merely connect, get the water, collect the fees and pay the supplier. The mark up of Baciwa is close to 90%. Where can you get a business that pays that well?

We learned from inside the water district that during the first quarter of this year, it got an “unsolicited proposal” to supply water to Baciwa. At least two proposals were submitted. Note that the proposals are different from that of Prime Water that until now Baciwa has not acted upon. Prime water will enter into a joint venture without having to supply water. The two proposals will merely sell water to Baciwa so there is no conflict with Prime Water and without any structural changes in the water district.

These proposals are like that of Bacolod Bulk Water that only supplies water to Baciwa. In this case, Baciwa has already enough experience including how to get somebody’s water, sell it at a higher price and not pay the supplier.

Inside information also says that Baciwa’s board created last April a Joint Venture Selection Committee for “Bulk Water Supply” and a Technical Working Group for the Joint Venture Selection Committee”. The names of these committees are similar to that created for Prime Water but the board narrows its functions to “bulk water”.

Why create two committees for “joint venture” when they are only to decide on “bulk water”. A joint venture is a different animal from a bulk water supply. So why the oxymoronic definitions?

“Aye, There’s the rub”, as Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet lamented. There appears to be a hidden reason for oxymoronic terminology, but I will not write about them now except that the other proposals will have much time to wait.