Barangay Waterworks System
In the province of Cebu, people in one barangay found they did not have to walk on water to turn a crisis into an opportunity.
The waterworks system used to be a drain in the resource of Barangay Tabok, Mandaue City. People in the barangay did not have potable water after one of its two deep wells, Taruwas I, bogged down in 1993 after 13 years in operation. The acute water shortage lasted for more than two years and severely disrupted the lives of the barangay’s 7,000 residents.
“People like myself had to line up everyday for water. We were vulnerable to sickness,” says barangay captain Emilio Rosal. “It was a very big problem.”
This was the scenario until the people in the barangay decided to get their acts together. They formed a non-stock, non-profit corporation called the Tabok Rural Waterworks System Inc. (TARUWAS) to manage the waterworks system of the barangay.
The corporation’s goals include: providing safe potable water for domestic use at a lower cost; adhering to the promotion of better water conservation; minimizing utilization by centralizing waterworks; maintaining a waterworks system that is environment-friendly; and providing easy monitoring of water quality.
The newly formed corporation entered into an agreement with the barangay council to adopt a socialized water-pricing scheme. Those who consume more subsidize those who consume less. TARUWAS charges a minimum of P5 per cubic meter, one of the cheapest in Mandaue City.
Learning its lessons from history, TARUWAS not only rehabilitated the deep well, it also expanded the project. It constructed another deep well, Taruwas III, which has the biggest capacity at 30,000 gallons. It also purchased a 30-square meter lot for the creation of another deep well in the future.
It did not take long before water shortage became a thing of the past in Barangay Tabok. Productivity greatly improved as residents can now devote time to their work instead of queuing for water. Proper monitoring of the quality of water also safeguarded the health of water consumers.
In areas that could not be reached by TARUWAS’ facilities or were people could not afford to pay, artesian wells were installed.
From a cash fund of P16,000 in 1995, TARUWAS now has around P1.2 million. It generates an average monthly income of P20,000 to P25,000. About 60 percent of the accumulated income from operation is placed in time deposit to maximize interest income. It reserves a war chest of P150,000 each for the three deep well pumps in case of emergency. Its water bill averages P145,000 monthly.
From its savings, the corporation was able to fund various barangay projects. Among these were the construction of roads, the Tabok High School building, street lighting, makeshift classrooms, and a day care center.
“Our policy is to plow back the savings from our operation into the community projects identified and approved by the barangay council,” Barangay Captain Rosal says.
The people of Barangay Tabok learned that only by empowering themselves could they bring life back to their community.
This program is recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Programs in the 2003 Galing Pook Awards.