The water system of Isabela City was originally established in 1948 through the initiatives of the City Government of Basilan. Its source facilities located in Barangay Menzi were initially developed to serve the Isabela Poblacion.
In 1965, the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) took over the management of the water system through the provincial government and implemented subsequent expansion and improvement programs. But upon the conversion of Basilan City into a province, the municipal government of Isabela took over the operation and maintenance of the water system in 1973 with the banner of Municipal Waterworks System.
With the need to establish a formal management system to operate the water service delivery, the Sangguniang Bayan of Isabela by virtue of Resolution No. 1109 organized the Isabela Water District (ISAWAD) on June 4, 1987. Upon the filing of the said resolution with the Secretary of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) pursuant to Section 7 of P.D. 198, ISAWAD was then deemed duly formed and existing on July 5, 1987. It was later issued its Conditional Certificate of Conformance No. 330 on February 10, 1988. Its name was later changed to Isabela City Water District per ISAWAD Board Resolution No. 9, Series of 2001 after a plebiscite in 2001 which converted the then Municipality of Isabela to the City of Isabela.
Upon its organization, ISAWAD availed of a PhP5.0M loan from LWUA in 1988 to finance the Interim Improvement Program (IIP) of the water system. The IIP included metering of service connections, construction of spring boxes and mini-sedimentation basin, installation of pipeline crossing the Aguada Bridge and expansion of distribution pipelines in Barangays San Rafael and Aguada along Tupay Avenue. Subsequently, ISAWAD became a recipient of grants and financial assistance for continuous development, such as from the Basque Government of Spain and Catholic Relief Services through the initiative of Bishop Jose Maria Querexeta, the Countryside Development Fund of Congressman Candu Muarip and Presidential Fund of Former President Fidel Ramos.
Over the years, these positive developments in the water system were not supported with effective management of the organization and its resources such that the district experienced serious problems in its finances and, most significantly, in the delivery of its primary services.
In 2001, a new management took-over the operation of the water district which was already on the verge of bankruptcy and with outstanding debts to LWUA and other government as well as private entities. These realities were consequences of high accounts receivables from concessionaires, low collection efficiency, low water pressure, high non-revenue water, poor water services and dwindling employee morale.
The new management immediately carried on aligning the district back on its track. Enforcement of policies was made stringent. Disconnection of lines, apprehension of illegal connections, and collection of dues were executed rigorously. Even the employees worked overtime without pay in order to achieve the management target of correcting the operations system deficiencies then. This resulted in the total turnaround in the operation and management of the water district such that from its moribund state in the early 2000s, the ISAWAD is now recognized as among the well-performing water districts in the region, if not yet the entire country. The water district also received various financial and technical assistance from LWUA, Kredinstault fuer Wiederaufbau, Department of Health, National Anti-Poverty Commission, United States Agency for International Development through the Growth with Equtiy in Mindanao Program, Philippine Water Revolving Fund and Be Secure Project, as well as the support from the local government and community.
Consequently, in terms of operations, the ISAWAD already presently manages an average water production of 10,000 CMD and serving about 71% of the population in the entire city with 24/7 water supply while already 28 out of 37 mainland barangays already have access to the water district’s facilities.
Meanwhile, the district also invested in the utilization of its idle properties into income generating facilities now with two resort developments, two coconut and rubber plantations and two paper reproduction machines. The revenues from these facilities are used to augment the district’s finances and reinforce the district’s operations to minimize the future need to increase water tariffs.
Effective March 2017, the water district already commenced the operation of its a septage treatment plant in accordance with the second mandate of water districts under P.D. 198. The water district’s septage treatment is the first water district-operated septage treatment facility in Mindanao.
On March 2, 2012, the ISAWAD was re-categorized from a medium-sized water district to Category C pursuant to the Revised Local Water District Manual on Categorization, Re-Categorization, and Other Related Matters (LWD-MaCRO) issued per Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Circular Letter No. 2011-10 dated November 18, 2011. In September 20, 2012, its new Organizational Structure and Staffing Pattern under Category C was approved by the DBM – Regional Office IX.
The water district is under the control of the Board of Directors composed of five (5) members each representing representing the professional, civic, education, women, and business sectors. As of October 31, 2019, the water district is composed of 54 regular employees, 14 casual personnel headed by the General Manager and assigned to the functional units namely, (a) Administrative and General Services Division, (b) Engineering and Construction Division, (c) Finance and Commercial Division, and (d) Production and Water Quality Division each supervised by a Division Manager. The current staffing ratio of the water district is 142 : 1 connections for every staff.
WATER SUPPLY FACILITIES
The ISAWAD presently manages an average water production of about 10,321 cu.m. per day from nine (9) water sources, three (3) of which are surface water, four (4) groundwater, and two (2) deep wells.
The district operates three (3) water treatment plant facilities and stores water in nine (9) reservoirs with a total water storage capacity of 2,500 cu.m. from which the six (6) gravity-fed systems and four (4) pumping systems are being supplied from.
Meanwhile, the district maintains a total of about 20.34 km. of transmission pipelines and 87.91 km. of distribution pipelines in various sizes and types ranging from 50mm to 300mm of AC, CI, GI, uPVC and HDPE pipes.
Currently, ISAWAD is already serving a total of 28 barangays in the mainland and 6 barangays in Malamawi Island and providing the city’s population of 86,088 with access to safe and potable water.
As of October 31, 2019, the total number of service connections of ISAWAD has already reached to 11,671, although only 10,068 service connections are active.
The existing water tariff of the district was made effective on October 2015 following the ISAWAD Board Resolution No. 040, Series of 2013 and as confirmed by LWUA Board of Trustees on April 29, 2015 per Board Resolution No. 027, Series of 2015. The present water tariff schedule is as follows:
As for the sanitation service, the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) approved the imposition of the septage/sanitation fee per LWUA Board of Trustees Resolution No. 063, S. 2017 dated July 10, 2017. The fee is being collected in the form of environmental fee included in the monthly water bills at a rate of PhP1.16 per cubic meter of water consumed. The fee shall cover the payment for the septage de-sludging, collection and treatment services to be provided by ISAWAD. For this purpose, each household shall be scheduled for regular de-sludging and collection of septage from the septic tanks through the vacuum truck once in a 5-year cycle beginning 2017-2021 and every five years thereafter. The collected septage are transported to the ISAWAD Wastewater Enhancement for Environmental Care (ISAWAD W.E.E. Care) Treatment Plant located at Tabiawan Barangay, Isabela City for the proper treatment and disposal in accordance with environmental and health regulations. Likewise, the provision of these services is in compliance to the water district’s mandates under P.D. 198, R.A. 9275: Clean Water Act of 2004, and City Ordinance No. 15-436.
Aside from water sales, ISAWAD has also earns additional revenues from sale of fittings and other materials, rentals, and sale of products from its coconut and rubber farms. This is done to augment the district’s financial stability in order to deter the need to impose higher tariffs that will otherwise burden the concessionaires.