Angat will no longer suffice by 2020–MWSS

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WATER supply from Angat Dam, based on its maximum capacity plus other smaller sources, cannot meet the demand of Metro Manila between 2020 and 2025; thus, the need to build the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has said.

The 60-year-old dam provides about 97 percent of raw water supply for Metro Manila and some nearby towns, with more than 12 million people.  Its maximum supply capacity is 4,000 million liters per day.

Aside from the raw water supply from Angat Dam, the private water concessionaires—Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co.—source water from Laguna de Bay, and during an emergency are allowed by the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to extract water from deep wells.

In a statement, the MWSS said the construction of the Kaliwa Dam in Quezon province, a P12-billion project funded by China through Official Development Assistance (ODA), is being fast-tracked to prevent another water crisis in Metro Manila.

“The water demand analysis used for the planning of Kaliwa Dam showed that the water
supply capacity from Angat reservoir and some other smaller sources will not be sufficient to satisfy the water demand of Metro Manila between 2020 and 2025.  Taking into account a supply buffer of 15 percent, the Angat supply capacity will be insufficient before 2020. These numbers illustrate the need for a large water supply source. The events since March 2019 have only confirmed said projections,” said the statement released by the Policy, Planning and Public Relations Department of the MWSS.

Responding to questions raised on the viability of the project, the MWSS said it has been properly evaluated: first by the Public-Private Partnership Center (PPPC) as a viable PPP project, and later hurdling the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) screening and evaluation. These happened in 2013 under the Built-Transfer modality as an integrated dam system or the Kaliwa Low Dam plus Laiban; second, in 2014 as the stand-alone Kaliwa Dam Project to be implemented either as a national government-funded project, or as an ODA loan, until it was included  in the basket of ODA loans from China.

“The national government’s effort to see this project implemented is clear, with only one moving vision—to increase the available drinking water to Metro Manila in the short term because of the projected supply deficit,” said the MWSS.

Meanwhile, the agency reiterated that the proposal by a Japanese firm to develop a weir dam at Kaliwa River is not sustainable compared to the present design of the Kaliwa Dam Project.

The technical studies have shown that the weir dam is not a sustainable solution to the water shortage in Metro Manila, it said.

“Both local and international consultants have reviewed the technical and cost sustainability of a low dam or weir over a dam at Kaliwa River. The results have been the same. In times of low flows, it cannot provide the reliability for continuous supply and in times of high flows, the risk of flooding due to overtopping is imminent,” it says.

The MWSS added that given the area’s being prone to erosion, the economic life of the weir will likely be shortened and it will thus mean more expensive water for consumers, who will eventually shoulder the investment cost of the weir.

Meanwhile, the MWSS allayed fears that the Kaliwa Dam will affect thousands of people living in communities along Kaliwa River.

Given the safety issues identified in an integrated Kaliwa plus Laiban Dam System (2013), the Kaliwa Dam project to be implemented now has been adjusted without the Laiban Dam being built, said MWSS.

“The social and environmental impact of the stand-alone Kaliwa Dam Project is minimal.  Even as there are risks which are usual to any construction project, mitigation measures and safeguards have been put in place,” it added.

The MWSS claimed that consultations with the indigenous peoples  of Quezon and Rizal in December 9 and 17, 2019, ended on a positive note, when the IPs and indigenous cultural communities  of Rizal and Quezon provinces,
respectively, adopted a resolution of consent (Resolusyon ng Pagpayag) to the project.

Such resolution, one of the several stages in the Free Prior and Informed Consent process, indicates the IPs can conduct their own independent and collective discussions and decision-making in an environment where they did not feel intimidated, and where they had sufficient time to discuss in their culturally appropriate way, matters affecting their rights, livelihoods, knowledge, traditions, governance systems, natural resources, the MWSS explained.

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