Why China-funded Kaliwa Dam, a possible alternate water source, is heavily opposed

March 14, 2019 - 6:07 PM
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Kaliwa Dam
The Kaliwa Dam project is expected to meet the water supply needs of the growing Metro Manila population at the stake of environment and residential loss. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

The government is pushing through with the China-funded Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon province as a new water source in the metropolis even if it will cause the destruction of a huge part of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

More than 50,000 households have been affected by Manila Water’s shortage of water supply since early March.

What is Kaliwa Dam?

The New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project (NCWP-KDP) is expected to provide the water supply needs of residents in Metro Manila and in the provinces of Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan and Quezon once it is completed in 2023.

The proposed venture will get its water from the Kaliwa River in the municipality of Tanay in Rizal province.

Reynaldo Velasco, administrator of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), said that the dam will be built by China Energy Engineering Corporation, a Chinese construction company, in the municipality of Infanta in Quezon.

The project was reportedly worth P18.7 billion to be financed through the official development assistance program.

It was among the financial loan agreements President Rodrigo Duterte signed with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his state visit in November 2018.

According to MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Ty, this had been proposed since the Marcos era but got postponed due to oppositions from various groups.

“It’s our fault. It’s the government because the Kaliwa Dam, Laiban Dam has been proposed since the Marcos time and due to lot of oppositions and accommodations for the IPs, from the informal settlers, from this leftist group, church group, these projects keep on getting moved,” Ty said in an interview on ANC’s “Headstart.”

What protesters are saying

Environmentalists and concerned groups opposed the NCWP-KDP because of the negative impact it will have on Sierra Madre’s rich biodiversity and the possible displacement of the indigenous peoples.

Haribon Foundation, an environment organization, said that thousands of wildlife species including the critically endangered Philippine Eagle will be threatened should the project push through.

“The construction of the multi-billion peso Kaliwa Dam Project will not only have devastating effects on people’s lives, it will also ravage the homes of thousands of threatened wildlife species in the Sierra Madre mountain forests including the Critically Endangered Philippine Eagle,” said Maria Belinda de la Paz, Haribon chief operating officer.

It also added that the Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve, where the dam will be constructed, is supposed to be a protected site by virtue of Proclamation No. 573 on June 22, 1968.

Meanwhile, indigenous groups in Quezon and Rizal worry about losing their homes since the late 1970’s when the project was first taken up.

They said in a report that government officials did not provide enough information of a contingency plan for their welfare in the future.

Angat Dam is still enough

Velasco previously questioned Manila Water’s use of La Mesa Dam as its source of water given that Angat Dam, the main reservoir for Metro Manila, has enough water to last for the whole dry season.

Maynilad, the concessionaire in-charge for the west zone of the metropolis, concurred when it assured its consumers that it is not experiencing any operational problems.

Manila Water has been accused of covering up the government’s moves to build the new dam and drew the ire of Filipinos online.

PAKIBASA:Sa lahat na apektado sa kunwaring kakulangan sa supply ng tubig sa Metro Manila. Ito ang tunay na dahilan. #NoToKaliwaDamProject#NoToPribitisasyon(salamat Marc Flores)

Posted by Irma Salvador Mepico on Tuesday, March 12, 2019