The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is opposing a bulk water supply project in Quezon Province that was awarded to the consortium led by businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Water Integrated, Inc. through a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.
In a position paper submitted to Tiaong Municipal Mayor Ramon Preza, the office of NIA in Region IV-A expressed “its strong opposition” to the continuation of the P103-million Lumbo Spring Bulk Water Supply Project.
NIA IV-A claimed that the bulk water supply project will directly affect Lagnas River, which is one of the tributaries of Lumbo Spring.
The Lagnas River Irrigation System currently serves seven Irrigators Association, which has a total rice area of 696 hectares and 388 farmer-beneficiaries.
“There is a clear threat of irrigation water shortage due to the increasing numbers of water users both for domestic and agricultural use,” said the position paper signed by Fidel Martinez, a division manager at NIA’s Quezon Irrigation Management Office.
To be specific, San Pablo City Water District (SPCWD) of Laguna Province and Dolores Water District (DWD) of Quezon Province entered into a 25-year agreement last year for the water supply and development and rehabilitation of Lumbo Spring.
Then in November, SPCWD and DWD jointly issued a Notice of Award for the Lumbo Spring Bulk Water Supply Project to a consortium led by Udenna Water Integrated, Inc.
The consortium – which is composed of Udenna Water, Spanish firm Inclam, S.A., and Optimus Engineering and Construction – was tasked to construct a facility to draw about 12 million liters of water daily from Lumbo Spring, which will mostly be diverted and sold to users from San Pablo, Laguna.
Udenna Water is part of the Udenna Group of Companies, which is owned by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy.
As part of the deal, the consortium will design, construct, and install raw water intake structures, treated water reservoirs, conveyance systems, pumping stations, metered interconnections facilities to SPCWD in Laguna and DWD in Quezon.
This, while the maintenance of the pipelines will remain within the SPCWD and DWD.
The PPP Center has provided the water districts technical assistance in the development and procurement of the project.
In NIA’s position paper, Martinez said the proposed project “will jeopardize the government’s thrust towards food security and will decrease farmers’ potential income.” “Also, time will come that irrigation facilities will no longer be used to its functions as the aforementioned project threaten the farmers to sell and convert their rice lands,” he further said.
Prior to NIA’s position paper, Preza already made an earlier statement revealing farmers’ concerns about the possibility of a further slowdown or reduction of water flow to their rice fields because of the aforementioned bulk water supply project.
He also said that the reduction of water supply and gradual stoppage of its flow in the rivers has already been observed, which will have a significant impact on the cultivation of rice, high-value crops, and animal husbandry in more than half of the barangays of Tiaong.
Preza then appealed that before any resource extractive activity is undertaken, which will affect users downstream, there should be a public consultation wherein all stakeholders, including those downstream, are given the opportunity to discuss their concerns.
He also noted that the City of San Pablo is rich in bodies of water that its local government can use for domestic purposes of its constituents.
“Although drinking water is also one of the basic human needs to survive, our town strongly believes that there are other sources which the San Pablo City Water District can use to meet their needs, the Tiaong mayor said.
“Therefore, we strongly pray for the non-extraction of Lumbo Spring for the sufficient supply of water to sustain the irrigated rice area of Tiaong, Quezon,” he added.