WorldWater (Philippines) Inc., a subsidiary of WorldWater Corp., and the Municipality of Ronda, Cebu, Philippines, inaugurated the world's first solar powered, prepaid municipal water distribution system on September 27 in Ronda.
Former Philippines President Fidel V. Ramos was the keynote speaker. Other Philippine national and area officials attended the launch.
Ronda is located on the southwest coast of Cebu, an island in the middle group of the Philippine archipelago.
For the first time, a municipal water distribution system utilizes smart card technology as a financing solution for community water production and to remove problems associated with the payment collection process. The Ronda system uses WorldWater's proprietary AquaCard(TM) (Smart Card) debit card system, which operates directly with WorldWater's AquaMeter(TM) solar pumping stations throughout the community. The project was made possible by a commercial loan from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) and required no special subsidies or grants.
"This is one of the first times that PNB has been able to lend to a municipality the size of Ronda," said Worldwater (Phils.) President John Herrman. "The bank's willingness is based on the collection security of the AquaCard, which enables the community to recover its costs and pay off the loan."
The AquaCard and AquaMeter system installed in Ronda allows the community to offer clean, reliable drinking water to residents, who pay for water via a debit card similar to a prepaid phone card. The AquaCard is inserted into the AquaMeter solar pumping station and the requested number of liters of water is dispensed and the card is debited. A microchip on the card reads when it needs to be recharged by the customer at the community bank.
Funds collected by the community bank from customers are turned over to the local government, which then repays the loans used to purchase the equipment and installation from WorldWater. The local municipality also receives a percentage of the funds for other infrastructure improvements. WorldWater keeps an operations and maintenance contract with the municipality for at least the life of the 10-year loan.