Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spare Davao's Tamugan-Panugan River

A nursery basks under the Malagos sun as part of seed propagation efforts of the Davao City Water District. Since last year, at least 20 kilos of Dao and Mahogany seeds were collected inside the 235-hectare Malagos Watershed Reservation. Over the last several months, the DCWD has propagated over 12,000 seeds in the reservation alone, in line with its mandate to preserve nature and ensure the city's stable water supply. (Edmarson Sola)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 24, 2009) - Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials of the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts gathered here to sign a manifesto declaring the importance of water over electricity.

The officials declared that "We need water over electricity."

In a recent forum sponsored by the Watershed Management Coordinating Council, 81 out of 89 SK officials supported the campaign of the Davao City Water District (DCWD) to spare the Tamugan River from any commercial use that could compromise the future's reliable water supply for the city.

DCWD said it has launched a Tamugan Surface Water Development (TSWD) Project precisely for this purpose.

DCWD spokesperson Imelda Magsuci said that the TSWD Project is a "proactive measure in response to the city's looming water crisis."

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB ) identified Davao City as one of the "nine water-critical areas in the Philippines where water is consumed intensively."

Magsuci stressed that the Tamugan - Panigan river is the city's last resource of potable water that has the quality and the quantity that could supply the city's future demands.

In a study conducted by independent experts such as Cest Incorported showed only the Tamugan -Panigan river met the primary factors such as large flow rates and high quality.

The experts' findings further revealed the following: Lipadas River has superior quality but has a relatively small flow rate; Talomo River has a high risk on contamination and has a small quantity due to a hydropower plant; Davao River is highly turbid and has very high operational costs.

The SK officials' manifesto was issued following Magsuci's explanation about DCWD's objections to co-exist with a private corporation's power plant project along the Tamugan-Panigan River.

Aboitiz-owned Hedcor, Inc. has signified its intention to establish such a facility, and has been moving rapidly to lay its social and physical infrastructure in the contested area.

Magsuci explained that the river cannot afford to simultaneously meet the technical requirements of both utilities. "Aside from the technicalities we cannot compromise the environmental threats that would be caused by HEDCOR's proposed power plant," she added.

Magsuci also pointed out that according to the plan showed by Hedcor, it has to divert the natural terrain of the river in order to augment the flow rate of water needed to operate the hydro power plant. "The operations of Hedcor will affect the availability of water for DCWD," she added.

She said that based on other scientific and independent observations, Hedcor's plan to divert the natural terrain of the Tamugan-Panigan river "will dry up the Talomo River which is a recharge area for Dumoy – this is a source of ground water."

Unlike Hedcor which has the choice of relocating its hydro power plant to some other areas in Mindanao, Magsuci explained to the SK officials that DCWD is limited only within the territory of Davao City. (Edmarson Sola)

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