Philippines hydroelectric dam repair to start amid quake fears

Philippines hydroelectric dam repair to start amid quake fears
In 2011, President Aquino approved the rehabilitation of the Angat Dam, finally addressing fears raised by the province since 2007.
PHOTO: PDI/ANN

CITY OF MALOLOS - After three years of delay, the company that bought the Angat power plant in Bulacan said it would finally start the rehabilitation of its 47-year-old hydroelectric dam this month.

Rodolfo German, deputy manager of the Angat Hydro Electric Power Plant (Ahepp), a facility now owned by Korea Water Resources Corp. (K-Water) and San Miguel Corp. (SMC), informed members of the Bulacan provincial board on Wednesday that preliminary work on the repair and rehabilitation of the dam started in May.

A groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled on June 16, but it was reset due to the unavailability of President Aquino, German said.

But work will start before the ceremony, he assured the board's committees on environment and on public works, which held a public hearing to determine when repairs of the dam would be started.

Alarmed by public discussion on the impact of the West Valley fault line, Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado had been prodding Ahepp's new owners to start work on the dam, which supplies Metro Manila's daily potable water.

In 2011, President Aquino approved the rehabilitation of the Angat Dam, finally addressing fears raised by the province since 2007.

But in 2012, the bidding for Angat Dam's P5.7-billion rehabilitation project was stopped following Ahepp's privatization. Ahepp manages the reservoir for its power production and the supply of water for Metro Manila.

Under the privatization agreement, K-Water and SMC would shoulder most of the expenses for the rehabilitation.

In an interview with Radyo Inquirer (dzIQ) on Wednesday, Alvarado reiterated the province's call for the repair of the dam to protect residents in his province amid reports that the West Valley Fault traverses two towns and a city in Bulacan.

He said local officials wanted to ensure that the dam can withstand a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that may be generated by the West Valley Fault.

He said the aging earth dam should be retrofitted and rehabilitated because there have been advances in engineering technology since it was built in 1968.

He said the towns of Norzagaray and Doña Remedios Trinidad and San Jose del Monte City are on the path of water should the dam break.

Alvarado also said the dam should be strengthened because it is a vital lifeline for Metro Manila.

"The source of water of Metro Manila is Angat Dam. Once it is destroyed, how would people in Metro Manila survive?" he said.

In an earlier meeting with Alvarado and other Bulacan officials, Dr. Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said there was a need to determine the stability of the Angat Dam especially that the West Valley Fault traverses a section of Bulacan and the Sierra Madre mountain ranges, where the Angat reservoir is situated.

"There is no danger if the dam is stable. We should not worry. However, we should study the dam and determine if it is stable. We should be prepared because once the West Valley Fault moves, we should expect intense ground shaking from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake," Solidum told Bulacan officials.

He also asked provincial officials to come out with a flood preparedness plan for a worst case scenario of a dam break.

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