Watershed protection seen essential in hydro-project
by RG Alama
Davao City (12 February) -- "Protecting the watershed is very essential to the Sibulan Hydro-power project." this according to HedCor Philippines Inc., President Rene Ronquillo, allaying fears that the P5-billion power project would destroy the critical environment in the watershed area.
Ronquillo said that the 42.5 Megawatt hydropower project is a run-of-river type that means it does not entail damming the Sibulan River which would result in adverse environmental and social impact. The project uses the cascading waters of the Sibulan and Baroring rivers to power the two power plants which would be constructed in the area.
With run-of-river design, the power plant is dependent on the amount of water rushing to the river which in turn is dependent on the quality of the watershed. Ronquillo said that if the watershed is destroyed, water during heavy rainfall would just wash off and the river would be unsuitable for the operation of the hydro-power plant.
Ronquillo said that the present quality of the Sibulan River was due to the still-preserved state of the watershed which the company intends to protect.
He recounts the experience in Benguet where Hedcor maintains hydro power plants. Some of the plants would be inoperable for many months due to the poor watershed in the area. Ronquillo said that protecting the watershed is a good business sense and not just because they are environmentalists.
As part of the plan to protect the watershed, Hedcor would implement a Watershed Management Program to protect the environmental integrity of the project area, which would be managed by the local community. (PIA XI) [top]