DEBATE OVER DAVAO CITY HYDROPOWER PLANT RAGES

Rody may back off on

Tamugan River stand

Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte may do a somersault and agree to limiting use of Tamugan River for domestic water only if studies would show that putting up a hydropower plant would not invite environmental disaster.

Duterte had earlier taken the position the river should be utilized also for power over looming power crisis as the Davao City Water District (DCWD) opposed a hydropower project of the Aboitiz-owned Hedcor Inc.

In a media forum last week, Duterte said he will back off from his position “if studies by experts would show the hydropower plant would be “deleterious or detrimental” to Tamugan River.

But if the studies show that the “quality and integrity of the river” would not be affected then he would stand pat on his position on Hedcor.

If nothing really would be lost then I would move for using the river for both power and water, he said at the Gikan Sa Masa Para Sa Masa forum held at the Davao City Council.

Duterte admitted that environmental issues that could affect Tamugan River are still to be looked into and clarified and he wants the study conducted by “international experts” before the city council would decide on whether to allow the Hedcor Inc. to build the hydropower plant alongside the DCWD surface water development project.

Duterte has been in collision course with Mayor Sara Duterte who said she would veto amendments to the Davao City Watershed Code that the council may pass to allow Tamugan River to be tapped for power.

The Watershed Code, aiming to protect the city’s 32,000-hectare watershed area, has identified Tamugan River as a conservation area where developmental projects are banned.

To allow Hedcor to construct its project, the city council will have to amend the Watershed Code and take out its provisions banning projects like hydropower plants.

Both projects were initially planned along the same stretch of the Tamugan River in upland Calinan, but Hedcor and DCWD, upon the instance of Duterte, had reached a compromise to locate the hydropower plant in the lower portion of the river so as not to affect DCWD’s gravity-powered surface water project.

The compromise agreement has yet to be signed. The win-win solution to the decades old conflict between DCWD and Hedcor over Tamugan River would not resolved the issue of the need to amend the Watershed Code.

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