Mayor Beng Climaco has emphasized during the water forum last Monday the need to save and recover the revenue that has been lost to waste water, technically known as non-revenue water (NRW), to augment the finances of the Zamboanga City Water District without necessarily increasing the water rates.
The NRW remains high at 57% in 2019 from 62% in 2018.
Climaco said whatever gains or revenue recovered from NRW can help to service the loan that the ZCWD is trying to apply from the bank while “we cannot afford water rates increase at this moment because there is no water.”
In addition, the mayor also informed those attending the water forum that the city government will construct mini- or small water impoundment facilities to save rainwater for future use as a solution to water shortage, especially during dry season.
The small water impounding dams are necessary because the city or the ZCWD cannot afford to construct a big impounding dam that would amount to P300 million as per feasibility study conducted.
Another strategy is for the City Engineer’s Office in coordination with the ZCWD to construct shallow tube wells in the barangays with springs and tap the same as sources of water for the community.
“The barangays must have their independent water systems,” she said, citing for instance the water systems of Manicahan and Mercedes.
Added to that is the plan to plant at least 100,000 trees to reforest the mountains as a long term solution to scarcity of water.
Once these and more strategies are done, only then can the city allow water rates increase in the future, but not this time yet. “We have to pay the cost of water. That’s a reality for the ZCWD to provide better service,” she said.
Climaco thanked the guests and participants of the water forum, saying their presence was a concrete step to continue striving for water sufficiency and security.
“Continue, because we have never stopped working for this—finding solutions to our water shortage problem. Water is very vital as much as electricity, and that is the challenge of the city,” Climaco said.
Present at the forum were Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Administrator Jeci A. Lapus, Congressman Jawo Jimenez of District 1, management officials from the ZCWD, city officials, the private and business sector, the industrial group, civic society organizations and other stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the private sector has presented its 13-page position paper, opposing the proposed water rates increase of the ZCWD.
The oppositors based their firm and resolute opposition on the following:
- The ZCWD dismally failed to show by clear and convincing proof and documents that the rate increase is necessary as their (oppositors’) analysis showed that other options clearly exist, which were never considered;
- The ZCWD cannot sufficiently explain why its operations have rendered it unable to pursue its mandate of providing water to Zamboanga City;
- The very high non-revenue water (NRW) is a clear indication of mismanagement, and;
- Increasing the water rates will not solve the multi-faceted problems of the ZCWD.-(Vic Larato)