Japanese firm renews alternative Kaliwa water proposal

MANILA, Philippines – More than a decade after submitting its proposal, Osaka-based Global Utility Development Corporation (GUDC) said it is still interested in pursuing the Kaliwa Intake Weir project with the Philippine government.

In a press briefing on Monday, March 18, GUDC chief executive officer and director Toshikazu Nomura said that if their proposal is approved and construction begins by this year, it would be completed within the Duterte administration.

What is the Kaliwa Intake Weir proposal all about? A weir is defined as "a dam in a stream or river to raise the water level or divert its flow."

GUDC is proposing a 7-meter-high and 16-kilometer-long Kaliwa Intake Weir that can provide 550 million liters per day (MLD) of water. This is 50 MLD lower than the capacity of the planned Kaliwa Dam.

GUDC will also build a water treatment plant beside the weir. This means Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services could immediately source from this facility without having to process the raw water.

"The design of the weir and associated facilities takes a highly sustainable approach," Nomura said, adding that a weir would not inundate Barangay Daraitan, which is near the Kaliwa River.

"We are conscious of lessening the impact on the surrounding communities.... This makes it a win-win for all stakeholders, especially the affected [local government units]."

In contrast, the Kaliwa Dam is designed to be 62 meters high and 27.7 kilometers long. The construction would also take longer and would finish after the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"This 7-meter weir is enough for the 550 MLD. So why do you have to build something higher than that? So for us, we don't see it as necessary to build a high dam," said GUDC vice president for business development George Campos.

Unlike the Kaliwa Dam project, which will be 85% funded by China, the Kaliwa Intake Weir would be under 25-year build-operate-transfer scheme.

This would mean that the government would not shoulder any expenses, but the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) would have to pay the agreed water rates to GUDC within the 25-year span. (READ: Robredo on China-funded Kaliwa Dam: Bakit uutang tayo?)

Summary of GUDC's proposal | @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/Sp7rkpzyWi — Anna Mogato (@AGAMogato) March 18, 2019

 

What happens next? Due to changes in management, the last major update in GUDC's proposal was in September 2017, when it was asked by the MWSS to resubmit its offer.

"[W]e continued our proposal [even] if [it's an] unsolicited proposal. The MWSS board accepted to get our proposal, that's why we submitted our proposal [again] in September 2017," Nomura said.

The proposal would now have to be updated, he added. "It has been 10 years after all.... We are here to help your people. But we will be fair [in making changes to our proposal]."

GUDC also said it has been sending letters both to the MWSS and the Office of the President, the latest being on February 7 this year.

Nomura hinted, however, that there may be someone blocking GUDC's proposal. He did not elaborate when asked by reporters to give further details.

"Somebody in your government gave pressure [not to entertain us] so MWSS will not move until now," he claimed.

The Kaliwa Dam project was thrust back into the limelight following Manila Water's supply shortage. (READ: DENR: 'No shortcuts' in ECC application for Kaliwa Dam) – Rappler.com