Plan to build hydropower plant in Davao City’s Tamugan River nixed

Photo by Ruby Thursday More / AKP ImagesDAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 June) – Go look for other sources of energy, was Vice Mayor and Mayor-elect Sara Duterte’s advice to the proponent of a hydropower plant in Tamugan River, adding she does not believe the project can solve the power crisis in the city and other parts of Mindanao.

Speaking to reporters after presiding over the session of the city council, her last before assuming her new post as mayor, Duterte said power producers should look for alternative sources of energy instead of eyeing Tamugan River, a declared watershed area.

Hedcor Inc., an Aboitiz-led company, is proposing to build a 27.5-megawatt hydroelectric complex that will host two power plants reportedly to help ease the power shortage in Mindanao.

“I don’t believe that it can solve the power crisis. I suggest that they should look for alternative source of energy,” Duterte said.

She added the city may invite other investors to explore alternative sources of energy without exploiting the Tamugan River. She did not elaborate.

The Davao City Water District (DCWD), which is eyeing the river as a future source of potable water for the city, has also opposed the power project.

The DCWD is proposing a project called the Tamugan Surface Water Development, which is projected to produce 200,000 cubic liters daily and benefit an additional 30,000 households in 25 barangays.

Earlier, the vice mayor said that both parties could not implement any infrastructure project in the area unless the Watershed Code of the city is amended.

The code prohibits the construction of any utility in watershed areas.

It primarily aims to protect and conserve the city’s water resource area because it is “crucial to a balanced-economic system” and watershed areas “are sources of life-giving water that is vital to public health and welfare and economic growth and development.”

Aside from Tamugan River, the watersheds protected by the code are Sibulan River Sirawan area, Lipadas River, Talomo River, Tamugan River, Cugan Creek, Suawan River and other areas that the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) may declare as environmentally critical.

Several non-government organizations have been conducting a signature campaign and holding protest actions for the protection of Tamugan River. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)