DAVAO CITY, Philippines - Davao City residents have urged the local government and environment agencies to preserve the Tamugan River for future source of drinking water.
A manifesto of support for the Tamugan Surface Water Development (TSWD) project of the Davao City Water District (DCWD) was signed by almost a thousand residents of Districts 2 and 3.
Copies of the manifesto were furnished to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and the city councilors.
“Naghinaot dyud mi ug dako na unta masugdan na sa labing madaling panahon kining proyektoha, kay kami nag-antos dyud sa taas na panahon sa kahinay sa agas sa tubig,” ( “We earnestly look forward to the swift implementation of this project, since we have long been inconvenienced by low pressure water,”) said Ricardo Mariano, a resident of Tibungco.
DCWD General Manager Rodora Gamboa said that her office is now conducting the feasibility study which is the first phase of the surface water project.
“As soon as the feasibility studies is complete, we will find ways to fund the project and exhaust all possible means to have the project done the soonest time possible” she said.
Gamboa said that the entire cost of the project is more than 3 billion pesos. “The result of the Feasibility studies will give us the idea how are we going to fund the project and its mode of implementation,” Gamboa said.
“In the mean time, our immediate and primary concern is the threat brought about by Hedcor’s application for permit to the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to utilize the Tamugan river. If this will be granted then the Surface Water project will be jeopardized.”
DCWD had been opposing the application of energy company Hedcor to use the Tamugan River claiming that it has no other river to tap that has the water quality and sufficient volume to meet the city’s fast increasing demand for water supply.
It further claimed that the Surface water project is the very measure to avert the water crisis that is projected to happen in the coming years.
DCWD spokesperson Imelda Magsuci said that Hedcor’s project would likely adversely affect the environment specifically the groundwater source in Dumoy aquifer which supplies potable water to the majority of the Davaoenos.
Magsuci said that according to Hedcor’s project proposal, it will divert the natural flow of water from the Talomo River towards the rivers of Panigan and Tamugan in order to meet hedcor’s required flow rate to operate its hydropower plant.
“This is hazardous to the environment based on the studies conducted by Asia Geodyne – Aquifer characterization, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – Isotopes study, PCEEM-Mines and Geosciences bureau (MGB) Terrain Analysis which identified the Talomo River as the main recharge zone for the Dumoy aquifer” she said.
“This goes to show that the diversion of the Talomo River will have a serious effect to the groundwater source” she added.
DCWD’s bid to spare the Tamugan River from industrial usage was backed by the Southern and Central Mindanao Water Information Council (SOCEMWIC).
In a manifesto of support, it was stated that “after careful study and deliberation of the Surface Water Development Project of DCWD and the Hydropower project of Hedcor, SOCEMWIC is fully convinced that both projects cannot co-exist in Tamugan River.”
It added that it is aware that Hedcor could tap other rivers for its hydropower project while DCWD has only Tamugan river that is physiologically viable and economically feasible.
Late last year, students of the Davao City National High School (DCNHS) also sent an open letter addressed to Duterte and the City Council, appealing for the prioritization of DCWD’s project over that of Hedcor’s.
The students expressed their fears on the environmental hazards that Hedcor’s hydropower plant may cause to the river.
The manifesto, signed by 300 student government leaders and club leaders of DCNHS, enumerated their fears as follows: “Hydropower may alter the river and river side habitat, a dam or a powerhouse can be a significant obstacle to fish migration, and hydropower project can impede the natural flow of sediments”
In the same manifesto, the students said that “our need and that of the coming generations for drinking water that only the Tamugan river can provide is more important than using the Tamugan river as energy source.”
They added that “the tapping of the Tamugan river for hydropower use also violates the Davao City Watershed Code which has declared Tamugan as a conservation area where any form of commercial activity is banned.” (Edmarson Sola)