Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nullification of DCWD’s water permit can result to water rate increase

The nullification by the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) of the Davao City Water District (DCWD) water permit is seen as disadvantageous for Dabawenyos as it can result to water rate increases in the future.

NWRB has declared null and void the water permit it issued in 2007 to DCWD which surprised the water company’s officials when they received the decision last July 15, since it was not the issue of the protest they lodged with NWRB.

“We were surprised because we were protesting the use by Hedcor Corporation of the Tamugan River where DCWD has an existing permit,” DCWD manager Rodora Gamboa said. Instead, she added, we received NWRB’s decision not only dismissing our protest but also nullifying our water permit.

The 12-page decision of the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) dismissing its protest against the water permit application of Hedcor Corporation on the Tamugan River has placed in danger one of the sources of clean water for the Dabawenyos, Gamboa said.

“While we are extremely disappointed with the NWRB’s decision to deny our protest against Hedcor we are surprised why they nullified our water permit when it is not included in the issues being heard,” she said.
With the nullification order, DCWD will have to continue sourcing water from the ground water sources which means they will have to continuously pay a power rate of at least P200 million annually (which is expected to increase to P300M with the rise in power rates) to the Davao Light and Power Corporation which is Hedcor’s sister company.

Gamboa said that in effect, this is disadvantageous to Davao water consumers since it can result to an increase in water rates with the accompanying increase in power rates. Had they been allowed by NWRB to continuously use Tamugan River’s surface water, DCWD’s power consumption would have remarkably decreased and the water firm would not have reason to reduce their rates for years.

DCWD filed its protest because it claimed to have preferential right over the Tamugan River by virtue of Water Permit No. 15729 issued by NWRB on May 27, 1997. The protest was also filed because Hedcor’s operations will adversely affect the proposed surface water development of the water firm in Tamugan River.

Gamboa said NWRB’s decision did not only disfavor DCWD “but in effect the thousands of stakeholders in Davao.”

“We believe that as a resource that is considered as the city’s only source of clean water in the future, the Tamugan River deserves the full protection of the law from unnecessary exploitation by industrial interests,” Gamboa said.

NWRB’s decision indicated that DCWD’s water permit was nullified because the latter failed to make use of the Tamugan River

Gamboa however said this is not true since DCWD has been preparing the area for the implementation of their water project through the conduct of reforestation in the area. DCWD has also conducted bidding for a feasibility study on the Use and Development of Surface Water in Tamugan River last November 7, 2007 with an approved budget of P9.9 million.

While NWRB’s decision indicated that DCWD can still re-apply for a permit, Gamboa however said they will not do this but will file a motion for reconsideration as well as explore other legal means.

Gamboa questioned the continuous assessments being made by NWRB for DCWD’s water charge when they are already planning to nullify the water firm’s water permit. “We even paid our water charge already and they also even assessed us for 2009 yun pala ina-nullify lang nila ang permit naming,” she added.

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