environmental issues

MWSS proceeds with Kaliwa Dam Project despite lack of DENR requirements – COA

MWSS proceeds with Kaliwa Dam Project despite lack of DENR requirements – COA
COA says despite failing to comply with DENR rules the MWSS proceeds with its Kaliwa Dam Project with the detailed engineering and design already 92.67% completed by China Energy Engineering Corporation

Despite being remiss with environmental requirements, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) proceeded with the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project (NCWS KDP).

The MWSS website decribed the NCWS KDP as “development of new water source in order to meet the increasing water demand by constructing a  dam for MWSS service area’s  domestic water supply.”

The project will be built in Sitio Cablao, Brgy. Pagsangahan, General Nakar, Quezon and Sitio Queborosa, Brgy. Magsaysay, Infanta, Quezon. Among its features is a tunnel which will traverse the dam location all the way up to Teresa town in Rizal province.

COA said in its 2020 report on the MWSS released Tuesday, September 7, that despite the NCWS KDP’s obtaining a Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) it did not complete its application of mandatory permits from government agencies.

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Those mandatory permits were among the conditions set with the issuance of the ECC. The COA said records showed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued the ECC to MWSS on October 11, 2019.

The COA report said said MWSS was unable to submit proof that it had complied with the conditions and restrictions set in the ECC. Though the MWSS submitted documents on May 20, 2021, these were not those required by the DENR.

The auditors said: “(MWSS) management simply provided a checklist or a compliance monitoring report (CMR) without any supporting document (e.g. permits) to show compliance with the ECC.”

MWSS proceeds with Kaliwa Dam Project despite lack of DENR requirements – COA

The COA report said that despite deficiencies in the regulatory environmental requirement, the MWSS issued on November 13, 2019, the notice to proceed (NTP) to China Energy Engineering Corporation Ltd. (CEEC) .

On that day, MWSS and CEEC entered into a “contract agreement for the execution and completion of the NCWS-KDP” with a provision that the contract was contingent upon the effectivity of the loan agreement for the project.

Less than 2 weeks later, the MWSS paid management fees to China Eximbank totaling P32.446 million.

On March 20, 2020, the MWSS drew P1.544 billion from the China Eximbank’s loan facility. This was four days after President Duterte placed the country under a state of calamity due to the COVID 19 pandemic .

Based on the water agency’s 2020 Report on Projects, Programs, and Activities, the MWSS disclosed that the detailed engineering and design (DED) of the Kaliwa dam Project was already 92.67% complete.

MWSS proceeds with Kaliwa Dam Project despite lack of DENR requirements – COA

Among the requirements which the MWSS did not obtain are the following:

  • duly signed memoranda of agreement (MOA) with affected local government units within six month upon issuance of the ECC;
  • an Indigenous Peoples Development Plan duly approved by the National Commission in Indigenous People (NCIP);
  • establishment of a program for reforestation and carbon sink mechanisms to offset greenhouse gases;
  • a detailed waste management program;
  • a comprehensive inventory and assessment of threatened species that may be affected by clearing operations; and
  • the creation of a Multipartite Monitoring Team to oversee the project and ascertain observance of all environmental policies.

The state auditors noted that these requirements were supposed to be submitted to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) – Central Office within six months to one year of receipt of the ECC.

DENR rules also restrict the start of any activity, like the building of a dam, until the proponent has satisfied specific conditions in RA 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act (NIPAS) as amended by RA 11038; a certification from the NCIP; and identification, creation, and approval of disposal sites for excavated materials.

MWSS proceeds with Kaliwa Dam Project despite lack of DENR requirements – COA

In its comment to the audit findings, the MWSS said it submitted to the EMB the following:

  • a compliance monitoring report covering January to June 2020,
  • a draft integrated development plan,
  • a reforestation and carbon sink program,
  • detailed waste management plan,
  • inventory of endangered species,
  • watershed management plan, and
  • an environmental unit.

The COA however questioned these documents, noting that these were neither originals, nor covered by the required permits.

COA added: “The Compliance Monitoring Report was not supported with the complete documents (necessary permits) and all the submitted documents are in photocopied forms.” – Rappler.com