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Friday, September 30, 2022

Water Crucial to Xavier Ateneo’s proposed transfer of Aggie College to El Gaucho

This was one of the main concerns raised during a series of consultations held by the university with alumni of its College of Agriculture over the weekend.

The Xavier Ateneo Board of Trustees and President’s Council is proposing to sell some of its properties in its downtown campus near Plaza Divisoria and the existing College of Agriculture Manresa Campus to finance the transfer of its main campus to the latter property.

The project also calls for the development of two new central business districts by property developer Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) in the downtown and uptown campuses.

However, the deal could stall if a viable water supply could not be developed at the university’s 104-hectare El Gaucho property in the Bugo-Upper Puerto Area since all the further developments hinges on the transfer of its College of Agriculture to El Gaucho to enable the latter phases of the P9-Billion project to proceed.

“The problem is water, it’s really a concern,” said Maria Rosario Mosqueda, dean of Xavier Ateneo’s College of Agriculture, “Perhaps that is where we can start land development, prioritizing crops, pasture and forage, because it is a real good area for dairy if we have the water.”

“The problem with El Gaucho is water, or more specifically the lack of water,” said Vincent Yap, an alumnus who resides near the area. “The presence of whom we call the ‘Cariton People’ attests to this. They are residents whom you see regularly hitching their makeshift carts to trucks to haul water from downhill to their homes in El Gaucho.”

“A lot of politicians have previously committed to help us address the water problem in this area but until now nothing has been done about it,” he added. “We hope Xavier Ateneo‘s project will be the catalyst to solve this problem”.

Xavier Ateneo President Fr. Roberto C. Yap, S.J. said they are already aware of the problem and would have to address it once the project is cleared to proceed by Jesuit Fr. General Most. Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J.

“We certainly need to develop EL Gaucho if will move our Manresa Campus there,” Yap, S.J. stressed in response.

Meantime, CLI Chairman and CEO Jose R. Soberano III said they are already in talks with some property owners living close to Manresa to develop production wells near the Cagayan River for the proposed Campus of the Future with a target daily production volume of 25 Million Liters Daily (MLD).

“We have a CLI subsidiary which is into water development which will help us out with this,” Soberano said.

In the same consultation, a representative from the Cagayan de Oro City Water District expressed COWD’s willingness to work with Xavier and CLI to develop water sources for the proposed projects, especially since the West Service Area now only has a 60 MLD allocation from bulk water supplier Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Inc. (COBI).

“We can link up with COWD for our 25 MLD project, but if we can develop underground water sources there especially the down portion is a possibility, “Soberano noted. “We are now working on it and the proponent is currently working to secure water rights from the LGU and City Council.”

However, Fr. Yap cautions that discussions of details such as these might still be premature considering the project is still in its conceptual stage.

“I’m glad we’re going into much detail but we have to tell you we’re just at the first 10 percent of the planning,” he stressed.

“We’re still in the conceptual stages and we don’t have the approval yet from Father General. This is not going to be our last consultation. If this is approved we will be meeting a lot with water, power and communications utilities; DPWH and the City Engineer’s Office for the roads and connectivity, because we would really like to work closely together and develop it into much detail.”

“What we are seeing right now is a perspective, a concept, and the hard work will be coming once this gets approval. But I’m very enthusiastic and very glad to hear that the interest this project will generate as we come together as a Cagayan de Oro Community.”

Not the least, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno, who attended all three consultations conducted over the weekend and last Monday, similarly expressed his enthusiasm for the project.

“Probably nobody is more excited about this project than me,” Moreno, himself a Xavier Ateneo ’67 High School graduate, said.

“Our water supply should be able to catch up with our growth. This Xavier Ateneo project is a game changer. This will change a lot of things here in Cagayan de Oro.”

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