Planned Cebu dam to avert potential water crisis in 2020

CEBU CITY, Philippines – To avert a possible water crisis in Metro Cebu area in 2020, at least 500 households will have to be relocated from parts of Cebu and Talisay cities in preparation for a 70-meter dam proposed to be built in the area.

In its third installment interim report presented in a meeting to Cebu officials, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said that the affected households are in the Mananga watershed, which cover portions of at least 10 barangays in the border of Cebu and Talisay cities.

“We just have to be optimistic. If we don't have Mananga, beyond 2020, there will be a deficit in the supply of water for Cebu,” said Ernie Delco, general manager of the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) who attended the closed-door meeting on the JICA report.

Initially, the study identified the affected barangays as Pamutan and Sinsin in Cebu City as well as Campo 4 in Talisay. But Japanese consultants foresee more villages to be affected.

The proposed dam will be producing around 70,000 cubic meters per day. Without the new dam, Cebu will have a supply deficit.

The JICA study, which covers a development plan for Metropolitan Cebu, also includes key areas such as land use, drainage, waste management, public transport, and risk assessment.

The full report is in the agenda of the first quarterly meeting in March at the Metro Cebu Development and Coordination Board (MCDCB), which also has representatives from non-governmental organizations and directors of regional offices of national government agencies.

Metro Cebu includes the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Talisay, Danao, and Naga; and the towns of Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Compostela, and San Fernando.

Cebu Governor  Hilario Davide III, chair of the MCDCB, said in an interview that he asked JICA to expand the scope of the study once it is done with its existing task for Metro Cebu.

The JICA study is expected to end in May, while the interim peport will be presented at the MCDCB meeting in March .

Davide said he wanted JICA to also include a development study not just in Metro Cebu but also in other component towns and cities of Cebu province.

Davide said that there was a JICA study conducted in 1995 to 1996 but the recommendations made were never implemented. He said that he is interested in the studies on public transport, drainage, land use, water supply, and solid waste management.

The proposed dam costs less than the one previously proposed by JICA, which was a 90-meter dam to cost P10 billion. The new proposal is estimated to cost between P6 to P7 billion.

Delco said it would be difficult to relocate the affected families. "You are not only fighting the people themselves but also the officials in the area."

He said, however, that the dam project would help residents in the long run as it would  reduce water rates.

JICA consultants showed a demand of 282,104 cubic meters of water per day in 2020. By then, a deficit of 29,037 cubic meters of water per day is projected.  –