CHINA ENERGY Engineering Co. Ltd. has been issued last month a notice to proceed with the preparatory work for the construction of the P12.2-billion Kaliwa dam that is planned to be Metro Manila’s new water source, an official of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said on Wednesday.

“Six months ‘yung detailed engineering design, and then pag na-approve na namin ‘yung detailed engineering design, mag-start na ‘yung construction,” MWSS Deputy Administrator Leonor C. Cleofas said in a chance interview after a hearing at the House of Representatives.

She said the notice was issued to the Chinese firm last Nov. 13.

“We’re doing the acquisition of the ‘free and prior informed consent’ from the indigenous people,” she said, referring to a requirement from the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Kaliwa dam is meant to be a medium-term water source for Metro Manila, complementing the main water source Angat dam, which supplies about 96% of the city’s requirement.

The new dam’s target completion year is in 2023, with its cost funded 85% by the Chinese company, and 15% by the MWSS.

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 of 4,132 MLD and enough to meet a demand of a little less than 4,000 by 2020, based on previous estimates.

“ECC (environmental compliance certificate) meron na, nandoon na kami sa last leg, so sa Dec. 14 and 15, we will have a consensus building. In fact sa Rizal, ang ginagawa namin ngayon is the memorandum of agreement,” Ms. Cleofas said.

She added that MWSS sees the need to start the study for Kanan dam for Metro Manila’s water security. The dam will have a capacity of 1,800 MLD.

“Phase one is only 600 MLD, but we are building a tunnel [with a capacity of] 2,400 MLD,” she said. “Phases lang ang ginagawa natin.”

Ms. Cleofas said like Kaliwa dam, the future dam will also be bid out to the private sector. The new dams will be build in an area with a climate pattern different from those of existing dams, thus maximizing the use of rain water. — Victor V. Saulon