New water source not needed; Laiban deal setback temporary, continued vigilance urged

March 6, 2010

by superadmin

Water for the People Network, promoting people’s control over water services and resources

Anti-water privatization alliance Water for the People Network (WPN) today said that the termination of the proposed P52-billion Laiban Dam is just a temporary setback for its proponents and called on all concerned sectors to remain vigilant and continue to oppose moves to revive the controversial project.

The group noted that the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is hell-bent on pursuing the construction of Laiban Dam despite the recent collapse of its negotiations with San Miguel Bulk Water Co. Inc., a subsidiary of local giant San Miguel Corporation (SMC). MWSS Administrator Diosdado Jose Allado today disclosed that they still plan to start the project later this year or by 2011 as he maintained that Metro Manila needs a new water source to arrest a supposed shortage in water supply by 2015.

The WPN pointed out that its opposition to the Laiban Dam is based not only on the provisions of the draft contract between MWSS and SMC, details of which have remained sketchy even after the talks collapsed. Allado previously admitted that disagreements in the provisions of the draft contract forced the parties to call off the deal.

But the reason used to justify the construction of the Laiban Dam, which is the hypothetical water shortage in Metro Manila five years from now, is by itself questionable, the WPN argued. Saying that regardless of what is contained in the draft contract, the WPN reiterated its earlier claim that the projected deficit of 1,600 million liters per day (MLD) in water supply by 2015 can be addressed by making the MWSS’s water distribution system more efficient. Water losses, mostly from leaking pipes that private water concessionaires Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. have neglected, reach as much as 1,540 MLD.

It is also for this reason that the WPN opposes the use of Laguna Lake as an interim water source, which is among the alternatives that the MWSS is looking into in light of the latest Laiban Dam delay. There is no logic in pushing for new infrastructure with such high environmental and social costs when a more practical and sensible option is already available, which is to address the age-old problem of leaking pipes in the metropolis, the WPN said.

The group also criticized the impending sale of the Angat Dam saying that the privatization of water resource management has worsened the access of people to water. The situation today is already a strong case against the policy of water privatization that has failed to address the basic water needs of the people. To correct this, the takeover of Maynilad and Manila Water of MWSS’s responsibilities should be reversed so that more decisive government intervention can be implemented.