IN THE KNOW: The New Centennial Water Source Project
The proposed New Centennial Water Source Project (NCWSP) is an integrated dam system involving the construction of a dam at the Kaliwa River (Laiban Dam) in Rizal province, and a smaller dam downstream (Kaliwa Dam) in Quezon province.
Conceived as early as the Marcos era, Laiban Dam was a project meant to provide Metro Manila residents with an alternative source of drinking water to the larger Angat Dam in Bulacan province.
At the time, a detailed study and preliminary work was conducted until President Corazon Aquino deferred the project in 1989 due to ballooning costs.
But studies continued through the Ramos and Estrada administrations.
The Arroyo administration identified Laiban as an infrastructure project that would be funded by a loan from China — a proposal that fell through after Chinese state loans were put on hold in the wake of the ZTE-National Broadband Network scandal.
In 2009, San Miguel Corp. submitted an unsolicited proposal to the government to construct the P52-billion Laiban Dam.
The project drew flak from various groups, which they said could lead to an increase in water rates and displace indigenous residents in the area.
In March 2010, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) terminated its joint-venture talks with San Miguel for the proposed development of Laiban Dam.
The project was revived in 2017 through the proposed NCWSP as one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s flagship water security projects.
At present, only the Kaliwa Dam project has been approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). The MWSS has suggested that the Kaliwa and Laiban projects be implemented simultaneously.
Kaliwa Dam has a discharge capacity of 600 million liters a day (MLD) and a 27.7-kilometer raw water conveyance tunnel with a design capacity of 2.4 MLD. The project will cost P18.72 billion.
The construction of Kaliwa Dam was awarded to China Energy, under an official development assistance (ODA) scheme.
MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco said the Chinese government had committed P10.2 billion in ODA to fund the project.
In November 2018, members of environment groups asked President Duterte to stop the construction of Kaliwa Dam in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges, saying the project would displace communities in Quezon and Rizal.
In an open letter to the President, the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc., Alyansa Laban sa Kaliwa Dam, Task Force Sierra Madre and Tribal Center for Development said: “If you (President Duterte) really care for the environment, you will not sign for the construction of the Kaliwa Dam.” —Inquirer Research
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