Negros Occidental

Opposition to P1.2B water project in Negros Occidental snowballs

Erwin Delilan

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Opposition to P1.2B water project in Negros Occidental snowballs

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio 'Bong' Lacson

Erwin Delilan/Rappler

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson says the project is needed because ground water sources have become unreliable

BACOLOD, Philippines – Opposition is snowballing against the ambitious Negros Occidental Bulk Water Supply Project (NOBWSP), a P1.2 billion initiative aimed at securing water for the province. 

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson found himself defending the project on Thursday, May 16, amid widespread criticism.

The NOBWSP, set to operate through a 38-year public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, including a three-year construction period, aims to draw 34.4 million liters per day (MLD) from the Malogo River in EB Magalona and the Imbang River in Silay City. 

Water, Flood, Outdoors
WATER SOURCE. The Imbang River in Silay City is seen to be one of the sources for the proposed P1.2 billion bulk water project of the provincial government of Negros Occidental. Erwin Delilan/Rappler

The project intends to provide potable water to EB Magalona, Manapla, and the cities of Victorias, Silay, Talisay, and Bacolod.

Environmental advocates, led by the Green Alert Network (GAN), have raised concerns about the project. 

GAN founder Rusty Biñas said on Thursday the province’s watershed, the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP), is already compromised by commercialization. 

“If this NOBWSP aims to produce quality and quantity potable water supply for Negrenses, then the provincial government must see to it first that NNNP is stable and reliable too in producing water,” Biñas said.

The project underwent a pre-bidding process on February 7, overseen by Asian Development Bank (ADB) Technical Consultant Johan Martinez and PPP Center Director John Dominic Zafe.

Eleven firms from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao joined the pre-bid conference that included the following:

  • Manila Water Philippine Ventures
  • Balibago Water Works System
  • First Balfour
  • PrimeWater Resources
  • BW Water
  • Aboitiz InfraCapital
  • PrimeWater Infrastructure Corporation
  • MacroAsia Properties Development Corporation
  • Maynilad Water Services
  • San Miguel Holdings Corporation
  • ME Sicat Construction

The final bidding is scheduled for June or July.

Silay City Mayor Joedith Gallego was the first to publicly oppose the project, citing widespread dissent among Silaynons, particularly sugar planters and the Hawaiian-Philippine Company (HPCo). 

“For me, there is no problem. But after consulting our constituents, I knew their sentiments, hence, I have to stand up against the project for the sake of the majority of Silaynons,” said Gallego, adding that the Silay local government would not endorse the NOBWSP.

Lacson, however, said they would proceed with the bidding, because surface water from Malogo and Imbang rivers were needed due to the already unreliable ground water sources. 

Lacson, along with other provincial leaders, signed a document called “Pledge to Act for Water Secure Future” during a water summit in Talisay City on April 8, 2022, to address the anticipated water crisis within the next decade. –

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