By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is not keen on allowing port magnate Enrique Razon and businessman Oscar Violago to build Wawa Dam if the latter won’t drop the case it filed against the government regarding his “water rights” in the surrounding watershed.
The Wawa Watershed project, which mainly involves the construction of a more than 80 meter dam in Montalban, is expected to deliver at least 500 million liters per day (mld) and could be built in next two to three years.
Razon, the major stockholder of International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) and Bloomberry Resorts Corp., earlier expressed interest to do the project under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme. Violago, through San Lorenzo Ruiz Water Development Corp., is involved in the construction of hydropower plants.
Violago began proposing to convert Wawa Watershed in Montalban, Rizal into a dam in the early 1990s.
In 1993, he claimed he obtained the water rights to develop the Wawa Dam Project but MWSS and the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) still won’t allow him to push through with it, an earlier report showed.
“The National Water Resources Board and MWSS have given us the runaround and red tape for the last 17 years,” Violago said in a TV interview some time in 2010.
He even claimed that Manila Water Company, Inc. “wants to grab” the project from him.
“They would want to develop the Wawa Dam project by themselves,” Violago said.
A few years and administrations later, MWSS is now more open to the idea. In October of this year, MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco said the agency has considered the proposal of Violago and its newly tapped partner, Razon.
However, Velasco, in a most recent interview, said the Wawa Dam will not push through until Violago withdraw the case and allow Manila Water Company, Inc. be the off-taker for the water to be produced out of the dam.
“There is still a proposal. The condition is for proponents to drop the case and allow Manila Water to tap at least 80 mld so they can distribute,” Velasco said.
He said Violago has not formally responded to this proposal.
“If they won’t withdraw the case, I won’t allow the project to push through,” he further said.
In October, MWSS shelved Manila Water Company Inc.’s P15-billion Laguna Lake East Bay project, arguing that it won’t be beneficial to consumers and could translate to water rate hike.
Instead, it resolved to have Manila Water as the off-taker once the new Montalban Dam or much improved Wawa Dam is built.
Velasco said that compared to Manila Water’s Laguna Lake East Bay proposal, the Wawa Dam project wouldn’t cost so much to build. He refused, however, to say estimates how much investment is needed to complete its construction.
Right now, MWSS is doing its own feasibility study on the project, which should be finished in March.