Water woes loom from Angat Dam privatization

THE Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment decried the Supreme Court’s approval of the sale of the 218-megawatt hydroelectric power plant of the Angat Dam in Bulacan to a Korea Water Resources Development Corp. (K-Water). The environmental group said that the privatization of the strategic water facility could lead to its mismanagement and disruption as the cost of corporate interests.

“We strongly believe that the Supreme Court’s decision will compromise the welfare of the Filipino people by giving the ownership and control of Angat Dam to Korean-owned K-Water. The supervision and control given to the National Power Corporation is superficial as it is only a co-party to the foreign company instead of being the sole decision-making body in the dam’s management,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE.

“We have a bitter experience of irresponsible private dam management during 2009’s Typhoon Pepeng when the San Roque Power Corporation spilled flood waters amounting to 5,000 balikbayan boxes per second or a billion boxes in one day, inundating downstream communities of Pangasinan. It is widely believed that the flooding was due to the dam management’s decision to delay its water release even when it breached the 280 meter safe level to gather enough water to maintain full power generation,” noted Bautista.

Angat Dam is the main source of water supply for more than 14 million Metro Manila residents as well as several towns in the Rizal and Cavite provinces. The group fears that the stoppage of Angat’s operations be it the private management’s commission or omission would result in massive economic disruption in the country’s most populated center of economic activity, as there are no alternative infrastructures to the dam.

“K-Water’s privatization of the Angat Dam aims to prioritize electricity generation as opposed to the efficient storage and usage of water for dependent homes and industries. It will thus result not only in increased flood risks due to mismanagement, but also the further skyrocketing of prices as we have experienced in our various water concessionaires now owned by Pangilinan, the Ayalas and the Consunjis,” asserted Bautista.

Since the privatization of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in 1997, water prices have skyrocketed to 449 percent, for Maynilad Water Services, and 845 percent, for Manila Water Co.

“The government must reverse the privatization of strategic water services as it contradicts the basic need of Filipinos for adequate supplies of water. The Aquino government must ensure the strict regulation of all dams and water facilities with preferential bias for the people’s water needs. It must work for the decommission of dams and water facilities that have resulted in community displacement, environmental destruction and the inaccessibility of water resources to the people,” Bautista said.

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