On August 1, 1973, the Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD) was formed as the first water district in the country. It was issued the Conditional Certificate Conformance (CCC) No. 001 on January 4, 1974 by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).
COWD was born as a self-reliant, quasi-public entity with the implementation of the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973 or PD 198, which created the water districts nationwide. Under the strong leadership of its first and brilliant general manager, Engr. Ernesto B. San Juan, COWD, despite its independence, was able to transform itself from near scratch to an organization clothed in efficiency, competence, credibility and success.
COWD started with only 3,500 service connections when it took over the management of the defunct NAWASA or the City Waterworks System in 1973. This was expected from an average water production of only 12,200 cubic meters per day distributed to consumers through transmission lines, only 39 kilometers long.
In short, in 47 years COWD has grown around 30 times more in service connections, 16 times more in water production and as much 13 times more in pipeline length. The safe potable water COWD serves to the public comes from twenty-eight (28) wells distributed in the six (6) well fields situated at Macasandig, Balulang, Calaanan, Bugo, Tablon and Agusan. There is one spring source located at Malasag. Production major facilities include three (3) major Booster Pumping Stations and thirteen (13) reservoirs.
As of April 2021, COWD already has over 106,575 service connections. Its service area is spread over the city and the adjacent municipalities of Opol, Misamis Oriental in the west side and Casinglot, Tagoloan in the east.
COWD, which became a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) in March 1992, was highly recognized for its remarkable success. In 1993, former mayor, Pablo P. Magtajas, has acknowledged it as being instrumental in fueling the city's growth by leaps and bounds. He likewise commended COWD for its efficiency, competence, responsiveness to the needs of the people and sensitivity to public opinion.
COWD was also praised in the national scene. It was chosen the Most Outstanding Water District in the Philippines in 1986,1987 and 1999. Lastly, LWUA conferred Highest Honors on COWD on January 28, 2000 for such achievements and elevated COWD to the LWUA-WD Hall of Fame.
Furthermore, the Bulk Water Supply Project (BWSP) of COWD is the first of its kind in the entire Philippines. This is a supply agreement scheme between the COWD and the contractor for a period of 25 years. COWD began purchasing in bulk treated water initially from Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. beginning January 2007 at an initial volume of 40,000 cubic meters per day. This BWSP is coupled with a Lateral Improvement Project, which includes the laying out of mainline pipes ranging from 300-800mm diameter primarily to be able to accommodate the entry of bulk water supply, expand service area and further improve water service to the public. The bulk water ownership and operation has since been taken over by the Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Inc. (COBI), a joint venture between Metro Pacific Water and COWD COBI currently supplies COWD with 60,000 cubic meters per day (cmpd) of potable water for the west side concessionaires and 20,000 cmpd for those in the east side.