DAVAO CITY — A non-government organization has raised concerns over the planned bulk water supply project that will tap the Tamugan River, one of Davao City’s protected watershed areas.
Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), an NGO working to protect Davao’s watershed areas, has asked the project proponents, the Davao City Water District (DCWD) and Apo Aqua Infrastructra, Inc. (AAII),to present their agreement and plan before the Water Management Council (WMC).
“We recognize the need to produce more potable water but there are legitimate concerns on the potential negative impact of the project to local biodiversity and the communities living near the rivers,” said Chinkie Pelino, IDIS advocacy coordinator and a member of the WMC.
Ms. Pelino said WMC, the policy-making and implementing body for the city’s Watershed Code, will have to evaluate the contract between DCWD and AAII MOA as well as the project’s technical plan to ensure that appropriate mitigation measures will be put in place.
The government-run DCWD and AAII, a joint venture between Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. and JV Angeles Construction Corp., are currently applying for an exemption from the city council to pursue the bulk water supply project.
The exemption, which will take into consideration WMC’s position, is required under the Watershed Code.
IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes, meanwhile, said a presentation of the P10-billion project to the WMC is part of the policy on transparency and good governance.
“This project could make water provision more efficient but then could also bypass poor communities or worsen inequities in water distribution,” Ms. Fuertes said.
She also cautioned against the possible privatization of the water district arising from the 30-year contract between DCWD and AAII.
DCWD earlier allayed fears of privatization and a resulting increase in water rates.
Under the contract, AAII will develop a facility capable of tapping 300 million liters of water daily from the Panigan-Tamugan River that will be supplied to and distributed through DCWD’s network. — (Maya M. Padillo, BUSINESSWORLD ONLINE)