Zambo water firm fears coal-fired power plant’s adverse effect on watershed

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/24 March) – The management of the Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD) is apprehensive that the establishment of a coal-fired power plant in a west coast barangay will contaminate this city’s watershed.

This, as ZCWD Assistant General Manager Engr. Alejo Rojas noted that the 100-megawatt coal-fired power plant to be established by the San Ramon Power Inc. (SRPI) is very near the watershed area.

The coal-fired power plant will be constructed on a 60-hectare area of the Zamboanga Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Ecozone) in Sitio San Ramon, Barangay Talisayan, 26 kilometers west of this city. Construction is scheduled to start next year for completion in 2015.

Rojas said one of the things they are seriously looking at are the consequential effects of the ashfall at the catchment area of the watershed once the plant operates.

Rojas said that part of the ashfall will still reach the watershed even as SRPI officials are saying that the coal-fired power plant is safe and that the simulation of the wind velocity will not affect it.

“That is the reason why we are seriously looking into the adverse effects of the drops of ashfall in the watershed area as this could contaminate the water thus affecting the health of the drinking public,” Rojas explained.

He added that the number of years of ashfall in the area could contaminate or significantly change the quality of the water.

Rojas maintained that apprehension of the ZCWD officials is specifically on the aspect of mitigation citing they are not sure on what measures the SRPI will use to mitigate the problem of ashfall especially on the watershed.

“Of course the effects will not be known yet if the coal-fired power plant is operating from one to 10 years. We will feel the effects of the water deterioration after several years,” Rojas said.

The establishment of the coal-fired power plant is being opposed by the officials of Barangay Talisayan, where the facility will be constructed.

Talisayan Barangay chair Josephine Pareja said they are in favor of renewable energy citing environmental concerns. (MindaNews)