Over the past few days, there have been significant reactions on President Duterte’s pronouncements which have spawned censures on the implementation of the Kaliwa Dam Project. It is in this context that the MWSS issues this statement in order to lay in proper perspective the President’s will to fast-track the construction of the Kaliwa dam 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%, 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 has only confirmed said projections.
The viability of the project has been questioned. The project was first evaluated by the Public Private Partnership Center (PPPC) as a viable PPP project. It has then passed NEDA screening and evaluation thrice: in 2013 under Built-Transfer modality as integrated dam system or the Kaliwa Low Dam plus Laiban; in 2014 as stand-alone Kaliwa Dam Project to be implemented either as a National Government funded project, or as an Official Development Assistance (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.
On the reactions by some sectors favoring the proposal by a Japanese firm to develop a weir (over a dam) at Kaliwa River, technical studies have shown that it is not a sustainable solution to the water shortage in Metro Manila. 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. Also, given that the area is prone to erosion, the economic life of the weir will likely be shortened and thus more expensive to water consumers, who will eventually shoulder the investment cost of the weir.
On the contention that Kaliwa Dam will affect thousands, it is clarified that given the safety issues identified in an integrated Kaliwa + Laiban Dam System (2013), the Kaliwa Dam project to be implemented now has been adjusted without the Laiban Dam being built. The social and environmental impacts of the stand alone Kaliwa Dam Project is minimal. Even as there are risks which is usual to any construction project, mitigation measures and safeguards have been put in place.
MWSS consultations with the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) of Quezon and Rizal has reached a positive outcome in December 9 and 17, 2019 when the IPs and Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) of Rizal and Quezon Provinces, respectively adopted a resolution of consent (Resolusyon ng Pagpayag) to the project. This stage, which is one of the several stages in the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process shows, that the IPs are able to 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 IPs “Resolusyon” also means that MWSS adhered to the FPIC framework and that the rights of the IPs are being respected by making sure that they understood all of the implications of the project before they give their consent.
Through this Statement, the MWSS manifests that it has exerted and continue to exert extraordinary diligence imposed by law and remain cautious under all circumstances in the conduct of its business affairs in addressing the urgent need to develop a new water source for Metro Manila.