The Philippine government announced late last week that it plans to speed up efforts to fortify the Angat Dam in Bulacan to make sure it holds in the event of a future natural disaster like a typhoon or an earthquake.
The dam supplies at least 90 percent of capital city Manila’s potable water supply, approximately 4.1 million cubic meters of water a day. It holds enough water that should it break, the city would be inundated.
Gladys Cruz-Santa Rita, president of state-owned National Power Corp (Naporcor), told news outlet InterAksyon.com that several government agencies and the Korea Water Resources Corp (K-Water), the private company chosen to operate the dam, have begun discussion on how best to begin rehabilitation works.
An inter-agency committee made up of Napocor, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the National Irrigation Authority, and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), among others, will meet with K-Water this week, she added.
Concerns about flooding and future natural disasters come as the country is dealing with the aftermath of one of the worst storms it has faced. Super-typhoon Haiyan, which hit the country early this month, killed nearly 4,000 people and and affected some 12 million more.
The MWSS had previously allocated some $130 million USD for remediation work to strengthen the dam, even though this is one of K-Water’s obligations as the winning bidder for the dam operation contract.
However, K-Water’s obligations will not begin until the $440.88 million USD deal is final, and it has suffered some setbacks over the past three years.
In a letter submitted to PSALM in May of this year, K-Water raised concerns over the purchase price and other issues it wanted addressed before the turnover process was completed.
In July, the Philippine Department of Energy and K-Water held a meeting in an attempt to “have an amicable settlement to make sure everybody is benefiting from it,” according to Philippine Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla.
Won-Cheol Park, K-Water director general for overseas and business development, asked the Philippine government to address some “major outstanding issues,” before issuing a certificate for the sale of the dam. His letter also cited a proposal from Psalm to change terms of purchase, operations and maintenance and water protocol agreements.
The PSALM proposal attempted to address concerns raised by a local advocacy group that the water rights associated with the dam not be part of the purchasing agreement. The Philippine Supreme Court agreed with the advocacy group and said water rights would remain with the government’s Naporor.
The deal is now expected to be closed in January 2014, according to PSALM President Emmanuel R. Ledesma Jr.
This story is brought to readers free in association with Singapore International Water Week.