CEBU IN SEPIA
At the onset of the 1900s, densely populated Cebu City’s only water sources were shallow wells, which were easily contaminated by surface water, and small springs; as deep wells were usually unproductive. The island has no major rivers, so rains quickly drain into the sea. Cebu’s topography and climate worsened its sanitary problems. Fire and epidemics frequently victimized the city; in 1909 Cebu suffered the worst cholera epidemic in its history as hundreds of its 55,000 people died.
In 1910 the then Cebu Municipal Council created the Osmeña Waterworks Systems (OWS), which first major water source, the Buhisan Dam, was officially inaugurated in 1912 along with a storage reservoir and some 95 new fire hydrants.
By the 1970s, OWS suffered deficits and was subsidized annually with about PhP1 million by the Cebu City Government. At that time, its 12 water sources produced some 15,000 cubic meters per day that served some 10,600 concessionaires.
THE BIRTH OF MCWD
Then PD 198 or the Local Water Utilities Act of 1973 promised loan, training and other assistance to autonomous water districts, the Cebu City Government under the mayorship of Engr. Eulogio Borres approved Resolution No. 873 on May 9, 1974 to create the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), and Resolution No. 1378 on July 18, 1974 to specify that component cities and municipalities must share in subsidy or counterpart funds when needed. Now honored as the Father of MCWD, Mayor Borres then turned over P25.4 million worth of OWS assets and facilities to MCWD - the Buhisan Dam, the Tisa Filter Plant, the Jagobiao Spring facility, ten wells, the Betania reservoir and a bodega in Lahug.
On February 1, 1975, MCWD fully operated with a PhP 200,000 loan from the Cebu City Government. Despite its small income, the district was able to pay its loan in due time.
THE LONG HAUL
To improve its services to the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Mandaue and Lapulapu, and the municipalities of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, and Cordova, MCWD embarked on project after project: the PhP 58 million - Interim Improvements Program and the PhP 112 million - Advanced Improvements Program in 1976, the Program I, Early & Main Works Development in 1983, the Operations & Maintenance Assistance Program in 1984, the PhP 468 million - Northern Well fields Project in 1990, the Mactan Beach Resorts Water Supply and the PhP 46 million 16 well - development projects in 1991, the PhP 770 million - Mananga Phase I Development Project in 1994, and the Cordova Water Supply Project in 1995.
In 1992, the Supreme Court declared all water districts as government - owned and - controlled corporations. Thence, MCWD stopped operating as a quasi - public corporation.
By 1999 MCWD – which was then caring for 98 water sources to produce an average of 131,900 cu.m./day to serve more than 75,100 service connections, and with fixed assets worth PhP 1.9 billion – crafted its vision, mission and core values.
In the same year, water district engineers commenced the Water Pressure Monitoring and Water Supply Management Study that enhanced the equitable distribution of water in Metro Cebu and further improved MCWD’s systems recovery rate.
In 1999, too, MCWD’s water laboratory was recognized as one of the country’s first 11 environmental laboratories by the Department of Environment & Natural Resources, the Environmental Management Bureau, and the United Nations Development Programme. Also, MCWD and former Congressman Raul Del Mar opened to the public the D’ Family Park, the first developing nature park-wildlife sanctuary-botanical research garden in the province.
In 2000, MCWD’s silver year anniversary, the Pusok Water Tower in Lapulapu City, idle for 9 years, finally came useful due to the full-blown water supply management project – signaling off MCWD’s intent to closely address the water supply situation in Mactan, where the region’s economic zones are nestled.
That same year, the Civil Service Commission and the Local Water Utilities Administration accredited MCWD as a training institution. LWUA’s accreditation was a renewal of MCWD’s previous recognition as a training center during which time it garnered the Most Outstanding Training Center award in 1990.
MCWD launched in 2002 its “Pulong-Pulong sa Barangay” program to be closer to the public it serves; and adopted Total Quality Management to institutionalize the culture of continuous improvement. Guiding this long-term effort is a roadmap highlighting indexes on customer focus, product and service, financial/market (profitability, liquidity, and stability), human resources, and organizational effectiveness results.
As MCWD moved to its new 8 - storey building in the same year, it continued to explore and tap bulk water supply deals and expand its service area, as it intensified its watershed management efforts, appropriating millions of pesos in reforestation efforts, watershed rehabilitation and security, and water resources care. To date MCWD maintains 245 hectares of reforestation sites.
In 2003, the water district commenced its Massive Rehabilitation Program to maximize the effectiveness of its pipelines, as it continued its Communal Water Service expansion in depressed areas.
After MCWD was certified to be ISO 9001:1994 - compliant also in 2003, it began leg working for a certification in Integrated Management System (pursuant to Environmental Management and Occupational Health & Safety standards), including an upgrading of its ISO 9001 certification under the 2000 Version. Then in 2004 MCWD drafted its Strategic Plan, clearly defining each working unit’s objectives in the light of the organization's Vision Mission.
HARVESTING FROM THE HARD WORK
MCWD’s groundwork rippled off with a series of awards for MCWD, Most Outstanding Water District in the very large water district category for its “exemplary performance in providing water services with sustained superior levels of institutional and financial viability” - conferred by the Local Water Utilities Administration in 1998 and 2000.
Most Outstanding Accredited Agency in Region VII consecutively in 2000, 2001 and 2002 for “continuously advocating and religiously following the tenets and doctrine of the merit and fitness principle in the Civil Service.” Consequently, the Civil Service Commission elevated MCWD to the Hall of Fame, despite MCWD’s being the youngest agency to join the government service.
THE WORK ENSUES
As of December 2004, MCWD’s daily production stands at over 149,000 cu.m. from 102 water sources to nourish a growing 99,200 concessionaires. Its systems recovery rate now averages 68.32%, and continues to improve. It is the first utility firm in the country to control and monitor the operation of some of its well fields using a radio-based system called Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). It is also the only one in the Visayas and Mindanao that has a multi-million state-of-the-art large meter test rig.
As MCWD walks into the horizon, its vision like an ever-burning lighthouse, it wields its slogan “water we share, life we care” like faithful steward of the gift of water. It has been 30 long years, and it was an insightful journey, as MCWD keeps its zeal for continued learning and self-renewal.