Kaliwa Dam project pushing through – MWSS

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The development of the controversial New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project is pushing through, according to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

“It’s a go because we have already acquired all the permits. In fact, we have signed a memorandum of agreement with the indigenous peoples (IPs) of Rizal and Quezon. These are separate because they are separate ancestral domains,” MWSS administrator Leonor Cleofas said.

According to MWSS chairman Elpidio Vega,  the agency is now ready to implement the project following the release of all permits.

“The tunnel boring machine is already in place and maybe next week we’ll be starting the boring of the tunnel going to General Nakar where the dam is going to be built,” he said.

Dumagat communities in Quezon province signed the agreement in January while IP communities in Rizal inked the deal in December last year.

However, opposing groups alleged that the MWSS and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples railroaded negotiations with IP communities whose land would be affected by the project.

As the proponent of the project, the MWSS wants to clear out the issues surrounding the development of the Kaliwa Dam, Cleofas said.

The MWSS said it is fully compliant with the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) process.

Apart from the MOAs, the MWSS carried out additional undertakings to consider the IPs and Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) desire for higher levels of income and employment, relocation and resettlement packages, and other benefits.

“These agreements demonstrate MWSS’ steadfast commitment to complete the Kaliwa Dam Project for the long-term water security of mega Manila and its sincere respect for the IPs and ICCs, which are in line with the government’s social, environmental, and institutional inclusivity policies,” the MWSS said.

It said Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Protected Area Management Board (DENR-PAMB) approved and endorsed the clearance for the Special Use Agreement in Protected Areas (SAPA) application last February.

In September, the agency secured the approval of DENR-PAMB for the issuance of a clearance for the Special Use Agreement in Protected Areas (SAPA) and the green light from the NCIP en banc (CEB) for its application for certificate precondition for Kaliwa Dam.

The MWSS said the Kaliwa Dam is essential to the country’s long-term water security and the realization of its sustainable development goals.

Vega said the Kaliwa Dam was one of the projects presented in 2019 to then president Duterte to address the water crisis.

“As you know the most important thing to the secure of Metro Manila. Hopefully with these projects ongoing, with the help of the private sector, we’ll be able to complete them barring no opposition from left and right sources,” he said.

The controversial project was originally proposed in the 1970s.   But the construction of the multi-billion water project was only approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in 2014. Financing scheme was changed in 2017 from a public-private partnership to official development assistance.

The Kaliwa and Laiban Dam projects are under New Centennial Water Source Project of the national government to address the looming water crisis in Metro Manila and nearby areas.

The Kaliwa Dam Project is a 60-meter-high reservoir and will cover 291 hectares of the Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve and the adjoining ancestral domains of the Dumagat-Remontado communities in General Nakar, Quezon and Tanay, Rizal.

A 28-kilometer-long conveyance tunnel will be built from the dam site in Brgy. Magsaysay in Infanta, Quezon through several barangays in Tanay, Baras, Morong and Teresa towns in Rizal.

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