By Victor V. Saulon
THE TARGET completion date of the P12.1-billion Kaliwa dam project has been moved forward by a year to 2022, or in time for the current government steps down, a water industry regulator said.
“We have an original timeline of 2023, but I want to finish the project by 2022 before President [Rodrigo R.] Duterte ends his term,” Reynaldo V. Velasco, the administrator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), told reporters after a briefing on the accomplishments of the MWSS this year.
Kaliwa is expected to ensure water security of Metro Manila by tapping the Kaliwa River east of the capital. The Kaliwa River watershed is located in Rizal and Quezon provinces.
He said the Philippines and China signed a loan agreement for the project on Nov. 20 to fund the construction of the dam. It will be built by China Energy Engineering Co. Ltd. starting next year with 2023 as the target completion date.
The award to China Energy includes the design and construction of a 60-meter high dam and a 27.7-kilometer raw water conveyance tunnel.
Mr. Velasco said the loan agreement calls for the Philippines to pay for 15% or about P1.82 billion of the project, which the MWSS previously estimated to cost P12.1 billion.
Kaliwa dam — or the New Centennial Water Supply Project — will be built along the Kaliwa River in the towns of General Nakar and Infanta, Quezon province. It is expected to provide 600 million liters per day (MLD), adding to the existing supply to Metro Manila of 4,132 MLD.
Mr. Velasco said the construction of the dam has not yet started, but the P565 million road leading to it is being built by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
He said when the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) approved the project, he made it clear that MWSS cannot pay for the 15% share called for under the official development assistance (ODA) agreement with China.
He said he had been given assurances that the funding will be shared with other government agencies, with the DPWH funding the roads and bridges.
He also said the government funding will be paid out over five years, lightening the burden on the MWSS.
Mr. Velasco said MWSS has yet to receive an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ahead of construction. He said he had submitted all the requirements for an ECC to the DENR.
“The timeline (for the ECC) before March because we want that by March… otherwise it will be delayed,” he said, referring to the dry season when construction projects can go full swing.
He said he asked Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu for assistance in expediting the ECC approval process as the Kaliwa dam is a national government project approved by NEDA and backed by the president.
Mr. Velasco has said that the construction of the project was first approved by NEDA on May 29, 2014, and also on June 27, 2017 when the financing mode was changed from a public-private partnership to ODA.
He said Kaliwa dam was first proposed 34 years ago. When completed, it hopes to meet the water needs of Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan.