If a grand plan will push through, Metro Manila and its nearby provinces are assured of safe, clean, affordable and sustainable water in the next 25 to 50 years with the possible implementation of long overdue flagship dam projects.
These projects, namely the Kaliwa and Laiban dams, include the rehabilitation of the Wawa Dam under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
This was disclosed by Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco at the recent book launching of the 15th year commemorative book of the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation, graced by former President Fidel V. Ramos and other top government officials and leaders in the water industry.
Velasco assured stakeholders the new MWSS Board of Trustees under the Duterte administration “will deliver the needed dam projects long started and stalled during FVR’s presidency to ensure adequate, safe, potable, affordable and sustainable water supply for Metro Manila and the adjoining provinces serviced by MWSS.”
Describing the privatization of MWSS as “a master stroke of a genius” during Ramos’ administration, Velasco revealed the water agency has reached 96 percent of its total serviced area, and has reduced unaccounted-for water at 10.6 percent by Manila Water and 32 percent by Maynilad, the two private concessionaires of the system.
“Another bright spot of the successful legal framework of the PPP between MWSS and its concessionaires was the opening of new opportunities beyond our borders. These two water partners have shared their best practices to other parts of the country and our Asean neighbors like Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Cambodia, some, I understand, with your blessings and support,” Velasco told Ramos.
He added that he has always reminded the concessionaires that MWSS must have at least a royalty on the PPP Legal Framework.
In a related development, Velasco announced that MWSS will undertake the New Centennial Water Source Project, involving Kaliwa and Laiban dams, to comprise the water legacy project of the Duterte administration.
Funding for the first phase of the project, the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, was submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority on Jan. 17.
By March 21, the Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee confirmed the financing shift of the project from PPP to Official Development Assistance.
The project is located at Barangay Pagsangahan, General Nakar and Barangay Magsaysay, Infanta, both in Quezon Province.
The project involves the construction of a dam with a discharge capacity of 600 million liters per day and a 27.7-kilometer raw water conveyance tunnel with a design capacity of 2.4 mld.
Velasco and the MWSS Board are hopeful that Laiban Dam will be implemented during President Duterte’s term since “it is a sustainable development project that will serve the ‘Marilaque’ corridor to insure long-term freshwater for Metro Manila and other areas.”
The dam would act as a catch basin as well as flood control mechanism to moderate the flow of runoff surface water and prevent sudden flooding in Metro Manila’s lower reaches and environs, he added.
Laiban Dam, a bulk water supply project has been approved, deferred, canceled and reapproved since its proposal in the late 1970s. It was suspended in 1989 during the administration of President Cory Aquino.
With the privatization of MWSS during the Ramos regime, the implementation of the Laiban Dam Project was left hanging as both Maynilad and Manila Water Services Inc. took over the west and east water sectors of Metro Manila.
Laiban was approved for funding under the China Loan during the administration of President Gloria Arroyo on April 2007, but in 2008 the project was ordered canceled.
The project was repackaged under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III under the Water Security Legacy Plan of MWSS as an integrated dam system.
Now called New Centennial Water Source Project, the integrated dam system consists of Kaliwa Dam and Laiban Dam with a hydropower component.
According to Velasco, in the last two months being at the helm at MWSS, at least six interested parties from China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines expressed interest to undertake and fund the $1-billion twin flagship dam projects either through ODA or PPP.