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MWSS warns of water shortage sans new dam

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System raised the specter of a water shortage hitting Metro Manila in the next few years if no new structure like the Kaliwa Dam Project comes on stream.

MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco issued the warning amid opposition posed by some sectors who he claimed had been peddling disinformation about the project, which is funded with  P12 billion by the Chinese government and forms part of   President Rodrigo Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program.

Velasco said the construction of the P12.1-billion New Centennial Water Supply Project-Kaliwa Dam will go full speed ahead to ensure it is able to feed the needs of Metro Manila and nearby areas.

“After 34 years in the doldrums, construction of the Kaliwa Dam Project will finally go full blast in the coming months that will supply an additional 600 million liters of water per day to Metro Manila and environs for the years by 2023,” Velasco said at a press conference Thursday.

Velasco said the Duterte administration deserved credit for having the political will to help address the possible water shortage in the coming years in Metro Manila and its environs since no new surface water source was developed after Angat Dam which supplies practically 96 percent of the water needs of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, and Cavite.

After a thorough process and review by MWSS together with its consultants and with the forthcoming formal signing of the contract between President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jing Pin on Nov. 21, the construction will be undertaken by China Energy Engineering Corp. starting next year and will be completed in 2023.

“It’s a done deal national project,” Velasco said, referring to the New Centennial Water Source Project—Kaliwa Dam Project located in Quezon Province.

The water project includes the construction of a 27.70 kilometers of conveyance tunnel, Velasco said.

“The objective of the government is to ensure water security since admittedly we are on a catch-up mode and as a redundant water source, thereby reducing the total dependency on the Angat Dam reservoir that also supplies water to the metropolis and nearby areas,” he said.

Velasco also said that the water project was first approved by the National Economic and Development Authority on May 29, 2014, and on June 27, 2017 on the change of project financing scheme from Public, Private Partnership to Overseas Development Assistance.

The ambitious water project was planned 34 years ago but it was only during the Duterte administration that the Kaliwa Dam project is being carried out, Velasco said.“When completed, this will answer the nagging water security problem in Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan,” he said.

Velasco said the benefits include tourism boom, opening of new roads, employment opportunities and the economy in these areas. At the same time, Velasco assured that engineers and other experts will see to it that the Kaliwa Dam can withstand an 8-magnitude earthquake.

“Our experts and consultants have carefully studied this possibility and made sure it can withstand the Big One just in case it strikes,” Velasco said.

Meanwhile, MWSS Deputy Administrator Leonor Cleofas said that both governors of Quezon and Rizal gave their fiat on the flagship project after various consultations were made with the project’s stakeholders to address the latter’s concerns on environmental impact and resettlement, among others.

Various leaders representing people’s organizations and non-governmental organizations as well as the indigenous peoples based in the three towns of Quezon  who will be affected by the multibillion-dam project took part in the consultation process over several months.

The Kaliwa dam water project is largely credited to President Duterte who made possible the funding for the project through a bilateral agreement with Chinese President Xi Jing Pin in October 2016 in a visit to China.” Stressing it took 30 years for the project to finally take off, she said the project is not only an additional 600 million liters per day (MLD) water-source project for Metro Manila to augment the 4,000 MLD from Angat Dam, but will also contribute to the development of the municipalities near the project site.

“I am very certain this Kaliwa Dam project will benefit the local government units around the project area notably Infanta and General Nakar,” she said.

Cleofas said an interagency cooperation is necessary for the realization of the project. 

Last September, BCDA Chairman and China ODA Flagship Project Chair Vince Dizon lauded MWSS for laying the groundworks and working side by side with the Department of Public Works and Highways for access road construction and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in connection with the Environmental Compliance Certificate. 

Of the P12.1 billion construction cost of the project, 85 percent will be funded by the official development assistance from China amounting to P10.2 billion, while 15 percent will be shouldered by MWSS.

Velasco said three Chinese firms were initially prequalified to bid in the construction of the Kaliwa Dam: China Energy Engineering Co. Ltd., Power China Ltd. and the consortium of Guandung Foreign Construction Co. Ltd. and Guandong Yuantian Engineering Co. Ltd. nominated by the China Ministry of Commerce.

Topics: Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System , water shortage , Kaliwa Dam Project , Reynaldo V.Velasco
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