That was years ago until one afternoon on September 11, 2006 when the residents of Apo Island, a barangay of the municipality of Dauin, Negros Oriental, together with the Mactan Rock Industries, Inc. CEO Engr. Antonio Tompar, Consultant James Cook, Dauin Mayor Hon. Rodrigo Alanano and Apo Island Brgy. Capt. Mario Pascubello inaugurated the Apo Island desalination plant. The people tasted the first drops of potable water right where they are after how many years of long wait.
“All these years I’ve been in this island, water resource has always been our major problem. We have to transport our drinking water from the mainland of Dauin,” teary eyed Diosdado Suan said. Suan is a former councilor of Apo Island, Dauin.
Apo Island, a marine sanctuary, and elevated as a protected area in the 1990s is about 30-45 minutes motor boat ride from the shores of Dauin town. Sources of water in Apo Island are wells or tabay, rainwater and hauled drinking water from Dauin.
Desalination, a process of turning brackish or seawater into potable drinking water, is an alternative way of augmenting freshwater. It has become acceptable nowadays especially for archipelagic Philippines, of which most of the islands are not reached by the water districts.
Efforts of the local governments of Negros Oriental, Dauin and Apo Island were instrumental in realizing the long thirst of the Apo Island locals for a water they can call their very own.
Gone were the days when water would cost Php 12.50 per container, covering hauling and motor boat fares crossing big waves from mainland Oriental Negros to the white shores of Apo Island.
However, inaugurating the Apo Island desalinating plant is only the beginning of an incredible journey. Residents of the Apo Island have to take upon themselves the real ownership of the desalinating plant for a sustainable water flow. Sustainability will only mean cooperation or pagtinabangay among the residents. During the inauguration, acceptance of the responsibility among the residents was loud and clear.
Water is an economic good, as stipulated in one of the pillars of an integrated water resources management process, which means water has a price. However, for Mactan Rock Industries providing water at the right time, and right amount, price and profit are not barriers. Profit is secondary for as long as the basic need of water for the people is met. It is not a 100% profit margin but just enough to cover costs and a little earning enough for an industry like Mactan Rock to continue serving people in waterless areas. Mactan Rock is an enterprise with a social development context, most especially for a product like water.
Definitely, providing water is providing life.
Read original: The Freeman