City signs ‘amended’ water deal

05/29/10 - THE signing of the joint venture agreement between the Cebu City government and a water contractor got off to a minor hitch yesterday.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña objected to a provision in the contract involving a lot in the South Road Properties (SRP).

Osmeña called for a re-printing of the contract yesterday after reading a phrase in section 2 which stated that the city “will contribute” the SRP lot to the Pilipinas Water Resources Inc. (PWRI).

“Why are we giving the land to you? This is a joint venture. We are not giving the land to you,” Osmeña told the people present at the contract signing.

Among those present in the signing were Cebu City Councilor Sylvan Jakosalem, PWRI owner Michel Lhuillier and PWRI president and CEO William Maceren.

“It was just the use of the word. PWRI never intended to do that. The words were open for interpretations,” Jakosalem told CEBU DAILY NEWS.

The PWRI officials echoed his statement, saying the phrase may have been misinterpreted by Osmeña.

“It was a word with the wrong connotation. We did not object when the mayor ordered a reprinting of the contract and it was consequently changed to “allow” from “contribute,” Maceren told CDN.

Under the agreement signed between the city and PWRI, the company will undertake the three-phase water project using the existing city-owned desalination and waste water treatment plants located in the SRP.

“This is going to be very environmentally friendly since the water source will be the sea and the water refuse of the locators will be recycled in our plant to be used again except for drinking,” Maceren said.

PWRI will still dig underground but the water would still be salty.

“We can’t get the water directly from the sea since it would contain a lot of impurities. We take it underground to make use of the soil as the natural filters. But the water taken will still be salty so it must still undergo water desalination to make it drinkable,” he explained.

The project will last for 18 years at more than a billion pesos. About 70 percent of the project cost will be loaned from a consortium of banks.

The PWRI is only waiting for the formal turn-over by SRP management of the desalination facility to them.

“IF they turn it over to us now, then we could produce potable water as much as 550 cubic meters as early as tomorrow,” Maceren said.

He said they will upgrade the facilities to provide for the water needs of SRP for 25 years. (Inquirer)

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