IT MUST NOT BE SAID that Bohol being blessed with many rivers to service Boholanos for 80 more years- should still have waterless communities and others suffering from inferior underground- tapped water today.
But -finally, it seems a local group- Richli Corporation (identified with the Eskaya Group of Panglao) – has decided to plow back its hard-earned money back to the province through water development and distribution and we have a Provincial Government who listened to the resounding voice of an agitated community for “better water” – and together have found a solution.
Last Friday -after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan accepted the new “modality” of development and distribution (sans exclusivity) of the Richli proposal – Governor Edgar Chatto (who earlier presided over a Provincial Development Council pow-wow for this specific purpose) – approved the petition for Richli Corporation to excavate surface (above ground) water from the Malingin River in Cortes cascading from the falls.
Heretofore, part of that bountiful river waters reportedly drifted into the open sea- wastefully and without purpose.
The timing could be just perfect for Cluster One- Bohol’s premier cluster which includes the lone city of Tagbilaran and the fabled island of tourism- defined Panglao Island, among other towns.
For the new Panglao Bohol International Airport is about to open -and as sure as Jack Ma being rich – will give rise to a million visitors hankering for hotels. resorts, restaurants and commercial areas if not residences here that ground-digging for water is no longer feasible.
Underground water always needs more filtering that the pure, unadulterated waters fed by rain and plant roots called surface water. Less than perfectly clean water can lead to diseases, poor taste and discoloring of washed items. That does not fit the requirement of any tourist in any part of the world.
Luckily for us- the God Almighty in His Wisdom- had provided Bohol with a large supply of water above the ground that we do not have to dig on the ground which is meant to grow trees, raise animals and house humans and their structures.
Cebu even saw it faster than we did – and years back- was already baiting Bohol to a water-to-power exchange deal. Which means we have water -aplenty- so, let us use those for us.
Surface water is cleaner and sustainable as we are a two-season country -one which always brings rains to replenish the rivers.
The P1.5-B Richli Project starts out as a P800-M Phase One module- covering initially -25,000 cubic meters of water a day -reaching 60,000 at its peak target.
Beyond that – both Governor Chatto and the proponents agreed that some water must be left for tourism and the agricultural farmers for our food sustenance.
The Richli Project is reportedly years in the making – and making the feasibility study alone- covering the engineering, environmental, socio-economic and financial aspects took a very long while to finish.
Added to that is the tortuous route of buying off the rights of way of every Tomas, Iko, and Harry who stood along the way of the development of the water and the installation of the pipes. Apparently, Richly had already done both -sinking in a reported P200-M in the process.
But the greatest pressure it had to bear,however, was the less than a year leeway for Richli to start pushing potable water into the faucets of Cluster One ( expiring August 2018 as required by the Natural Water Resource Board) and the damages it was facing from contractors on standby (and the expensive inventory of the state of the art Goodyear steel pipes) while waiting for the excavation permit for them to commence.
Any new proponent, therefore, who wishes to undertake the same now might be years behind Richli’s traction and will not certainly meet the airport’s opening by a wide swath of time.
It is understandable, therefore, that the proponent had to ask the LGU Head Office, indirectly the Palace, NEDA, and PCCI to help alleviate their plight with millions sank in, the expiry dates nearing and with a restless band of contractors ready to file damage suits for the delay.
But it is equally understandable that given existing policies with the blessings of the both the SB and the PDC, Governor Chatto had to take the transparent route of validating his decisions based on their recommendations.
So, it seems, everyone proceeded to work on the basis of their own needs and limitations, and so – as they say, all is well that end’s well.
Richli, in its earnest effort to serve the water needs per their timeline and investment goals, resorted to pursuing “other viable options” to achieve their own corporate mission and commitment to providing water to Boholanos in Cluster One. One should not begrudge the corporation for doing that.
On the other hand, with much of the entanglements cleared now, the ball is in the hands of Richli Corporation. It should now go for a homerun dunk and not fumble on a traveling infraction on the court, so to speak.
And the clock, like in a basketball game, is ticking.
August 2018 is less than a year away.
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