City, province want “conditions” on water expansion project

Representatives of the city government and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) during Monday’s press briefing at the City Water District seek assurance from the local water agency for a “sustainable” water supply for the consumers.

Despite finally securing water rights to the Lapu-Lapu and Montible Rivers from the national government, the Puerto Princesa City Water District is set to face questioning from both the provincial and city government before they can push ahead with their expansion project.

Representatives of the city government and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) indicated during Monday’s press briefing at the City Water District they want to seek assurance from the local water agency that their project will be “sustainable” and will meet the increasing demand for water supply from consumers.

The City government had previously openly opposed the water district’s expansion project and had applied for the same water rights from the Bureau of Corrections which has jurisdiction over the Iwahig penal property and the two rivers.

PCSD spokesperson Jovic Fabello said that Governor Jose Alvarez, who sits as chair of the Council, wants to call a meeting between Water District officials and the City government before they issue a Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance.

“Ang instruction ng chairman ng PCSD is to call a meeting between PCSD, himself, and the Water District and the city government of Puerto Princesa. The only word that I heard during the meeting is that he is concerned about the sustainability of the project. But the SEP clearance is already considered approved,” Fabello said.

On the city government’s part, information officer Richard Ligad said they are not competing with the Water District for the water rights and only wanted to ensure that the city’s water supply will be adequate and that other potential water sources are also tapped.

“Wala kaming balak makipag-kompitensya. Yung atin lang, kung sino ‘yong unang makakuha, halimbawa makuha kami, so ipapa-ano namin sa Water District. Ngayon, since malinaw na ‘yong sa Water District, ang inaano na lang ngayon ni Mayor (Bayron) is tingnan din natin ‘yong ibang source sana,” Ligad said.

“I-study natin ‘yong area, kasi ayaw natin na bandang huli na magsisihan tayo. Ilagay natin black-and-white, nang sa ganon pag pinasa natin, wala tayong maging problema pare-pareho,” he added.

The city, assisted by the provincial government, had previously announced plans to develop the same water source and become a bulk water supplier or operate its own water distribution network.

PPCWD general manager Tony Romasanta said they are not yet aware what conditions the city and province want to get from them as part of the project.

He added however he is confident about the financial and project viability of their plans, adding it had passed scrutiny of both the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) which will be funding the project for P720 million.

He said the project is a major component of their expansion program designed to ensure enough water supply for the city.

“Ito kasi medium-term project lang ito. Kasi need talaga ng tao sa ngayon. Kapag na-implement na ang program na ‘yan, it will not stop diyan. Continuous siya, so ang last component na gagawin namin will be the dam,” Romasanta said.

In its presentation, the PPCWD projected the city’s water demand to rise from 33,000 cubic meters in 2010 to over 53,000 cubic meters by 2025.

“The solution is to develop additional sources that can supply 30, 000 cubic meters of water per day even during dry season up to 2025 and beyond.”

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