Last City Council session today

Dawn masses ushered in today the official start of the Christmas season. The City Council took part in this annual ritual taking care of the food stalls infront of the San Pedro Cathedral and the City Council building.

The offering of the free stalls for food vendors would run nine days.

The regular City Council session today is scheduled at 1 p.m. because a  number of our colleagues, our SP Secretary Leika Lopez and her staff burned the midnight candle to help organize the traditional “simbang gabi” food fair.

The calendar of business today includes items not taken up in yesterday’s session and a few additions including the request of the Bankerohan Meat Vendors Coop for the extension of their slaugherhouse permit, which expires at the end of this year.

Passed unnoticed by the local media yesterday was the City Council’s favorable endorsement for Legaspi Oil’s plan for a Special Economic Zone at Barangay Sasa.

One of the remaining important items left at the City Council agenda is the hydro power plant project of clean energy company Hedcor at Tamugan.

Thanks for more Christmas gifts from Councilor Mabel Acosta, Councilor Conde Baluran and University of the Philippines (UP-Mindanao)

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One down, 2 shouldn’t go

Hedcor has decided to scrap one of three hydro power plants it intends to build in Marilog District due to delays in the project.

Rene Ronquillo, president of the Aboitiz “cleanergy” firm was quoted by the Philippine Star saying its board has decided to scrap the Suawan plant, part of the 34.5 megawatt Tamugan-Panigan-Suawan hydropower project estimated to cost P7 billion. The Suawan plant has a capacity of 7 mw.

The reason for the delay is the opposition of the local water utility, Davao City Water District. The delay is already two years. For us lay people, the dispute is easily resolvable as it pertains mainly on elevation, where water would be tapped by either Hedcor or DCWD, and not on a fundamental issue on the use or misuse of water resources. Technical solutions can certainly fix the problem and both parties have plenty of good engineers.

Further delays in the plans to build the hydro electric facilities to meet local energy shortage by 2010 might altogether scrap the two remaining plants. God forbid.

If the water utility continues to dilly dally, as I have shown in Septage the post below, here’s what I see in the future. Two years down the road, the water district will have to fend off two public anger – poor water service and the dreaded brownouts. Yup, I would squarely put the blame on DCWD if the city suffer from power shortages starting in 2010.

Related posts – Water wars

5:52 a.m.

Water wars

It is said that the next major world conflict or future wars will be about water.

Well, actually one is already raging in our city. But thank God, this war uses no bullets or bombs.

The war pits the government-owned water utility, the Davao City Water District, against the privately-owned clean energy firm Hedcor. DCWD wants to tap the surface water of the Tamugan River for its future supply; Hedcor wants to use the same river to generate hydropower to answer the expected power supply shortage by 2010-11.

A number of battlefronts have been opened in their war over the Tamugan and other rivers in Marilog District, some 50 kilometers northwest of the city.

Front 1 – among the indigenous peoples in nine affected barangays (villages). Hedcor has undertaken community prep work to win over the IP communities; – Hedcor has the upperhand;

Front 2 – at the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) in Manila which grants permit for water use. DCWD was granted permit for Tamugan as early as 10 years ago but has not done any concrete project to tap surface water. DCWD is currently extracting almost 100 percent of its supply from underground water like in Dumoy. Hedcor has a pending application; DCWD has the upperhand;

Front 3 – Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) which grants environmental permits; EMB has put the application of Hedcor for ECC on hold; – DCWD has the upperhand

Front 4 – City Council – The committee report of the Committee on Energy is ready and just awaiting the counterpart committee report of the Committee on Environment; majority of the members of the city council believe that both DCWD and Hedcor can use the same water; Hedcor has upperhand

Front 5 – media – both have their PR campaigns; However, DCWD is embroiled in a number of controversial issues such as poor service, non-payment of taxes, and alleged agency corruption; due to skyrocketing cost of fossil fuel and climate change, many people seek clean alternative energy; Hedcor has the upperhand;

Front 6 – you! – the people, the ultimate consumer of both water and power.

Which side are you in favor?

Or are you like me who believes that they can co-exist?

Your views are valuable, as in the case of the many comments on our Ayala Center Davao post. Please send them and be part of the water war.

5:08 a.m.