MWSS insists China-funded Kaliwa Dam better than Japanese proposal

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2019 06:32 PM | Updated as of Mar 20 2019 03:07 PM

One of the tunnels inside the “Laiban dam” in Tanay, Rizal which was supposed to form part of the New Centennial Water Source project. The Kaliwa dam, which could provide 600 million liters of water per day (mld) was meant to be part of this NCWS expected to deliver 2,400 mld. Taken Feb. 6, 2016. Kara Santos, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on Tuesday defended the government’s decision to have the controversial Kaliwa Dam constructed by Chinese contractors.

The dam, which costs P12.2 billion, is funded by official development assistance from China.

During a Senate hearing on the recent water shortage, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian questioned MWSS on why the government did not consider the proposal of a Japanese company.

The company, Global Utility Development Corporation (GUDC), held a press conference on Monday. GUDC said it submitted a proposal for a weir or a low dam, under the Kaliwa Intake Weir project, a decade ago. 

The company said that despite being 7 meters high compared to the China-funded dam that is 62 meters high, it would be able to supply 550 million liters per day. Unlike the dam proposed by China, GUDC’s weir will supposedly not force residents to relocate or flood nearby villages.

It will only cost P21 billion and will be under a build-operate-transfer contract. More importantly, it can be constructed within 36 months. 

“They are claiming that their construction cost is 410 million (dollars) versus the Chinese loan of 800 million (dollars), which is double. But the capacity is almost the same. 550 million liters per day for the Japanese and 600 for the Chinese loan,” Gatchalian said. “At the same time if you look at the technical description mas mabilis gawin yung sa Japanese proposal versus the Chinese proposal. 

However, MWSS administrator Reynaldo Velasco explained that what the country needed is an impounding dam like the one proposed by the Chinese.

“We cannot be sure that during times of crisis we can store water under Japanese contract. What would be the use of the dam if you could not use it especially during summer?” Velasco said. “If we put up just a weir and there is a dry season we won’t be able to store enough water.”

Velasco said it is actually the height of the China-funded dam that will help prevent flooding “especially in Infanta, which has a very sad experience some years back.”

“The Kaliwa weir intake is only a runoff river diversion,” he said.

He said the 600 million liters of the Kaliwa Dam can be “expanded to about 2400 million liters per day.” On the other hand, the Japan proposal has a maximum of 550 million liters.

“On the raw water conveyance tunnel capacity, the (China-funded) Kaliwa Dam provides 2400 million liters per day capacity, designed to accommodate additional raw water,” Velasco said. 

He also explained that the China-funded dam will have a conveyance tunnel 27.7 kilometers long which will connect it to treatment that will be built in in the town of Teresa, or Antipolo City. The one proposed by the Japanese firm is only 16 kilometers long and with a delivery point in Tanay. 

“From Tanay you need another conveyance tunnel to bring it to Antipolo or Teresa. That’s the reason why it would seem it is cheap,” Velasco said. 

Velasco said GUDC proposal was submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority but “NEDA did not consider it. 

“We can discuss this one but as far as I, we are concerned at the MWSS, the project has already been approved by the President and we cannot do anything anymore,” he said.

Gatchalian, however, insisted that the MWSS send copies of their technical studies to the Senate. 

“At the end of the day utang rin ito na babayaran ko as a taxpayer (At the end of the day, this is a loan that I would have to pay as a taxpayer),” the senator said.