By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The much awaited construction of the multi-billion Kaliwa Dam Project that was supposed to begin this month has been moved to a later date.
This was according to a statement from Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), which also dismissed environment concerns raised against the project, which is located within two municipalities in Quezon province.
“After 34 years in the doldrums, construction of the Kaliwa Dam Project will finally go full blast in the coming months that will supply an additional 600 million liters of water per day to Metro Manila,” MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco said.
However, the agency said the construction of the dam will be undertaken “starting next year and will be completed in 2023.” This is in contrast with an earlier report that say the construction of what could be the country’s biggest water infrastructure project in years should be in full swing this month.
The project will be done by China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC), which was selected by the MWSS from the list of foreign contractors recommended by the Chinese government to the Philippines for its construction.
The project’s cost, which used to be P19 billion and is now pegged at P12 billion, will be largely funded by the Chinese government through an Official Development Assistance (ODA).
“It’s a done deal national project,” Velasco said.
The development of Kaliwa Dam is crucial since no new surface water source has been developed over the past years since Angat Dam, which supplies practically 96 percent of the water needs of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal and Cavite, was built.
The water project includes the construction of a 27.70 kilometers of conveyance tunnel.
“The objective of the government is to ensure water security since admittedly we are on a catch up mode and as a redundant water source, thereby reducing the total dependency on the Angat Dam reservoir that also supplies water to the metropolis and nearby areas,” Velasco said.
Velasco also dismissed fears raised by Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, Inc. (SSMNA), Alyansa Laban sa Kaliwa Dam, Task Force Sierra Madre, and Tribal Center for Development towards the construction of the project, which they said could be detrimental to the environment.
“If you [the President] really care for the environment, you will not sign for the construction of the Kaliwa Dam,” the groups said in an open letter to President Rodrigo Duterte.
A formal contract-signing will be held on November 21 between Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jing Pin during the latter’s state visit here.