DAVAO City, Philippines—Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who had been a strong endorser of a coal-fired power plant that Aboitiz Power Corp. plans to erect in the Toril district here, says he now has apprehensions about the project after learning that the plant will require a lot of fresh water.
“I was made to understand that they will be using sea water,” Duterte told reporters Thursday.
Duterte said he learned only recently that Aboitiz would be drawing fresh ground water to run the power plant and not sea water as he had been made to believe.
The plant is to be located in Toril’s Binugao area, which sits on one of the city’s known aquifers.
Duterte said his fear about the loss of fresh water in Binugao was the same reason he ordered the suspension of a city council resolution approving the reclassification of the area, including the site of the proposed 300-megawatt plant, into an industrial zone.
Binugao is currently classified as a protected medium industrial and protected open space easement.
“I am sorry to delay the project but there are things that need to be addressed,” Duterte said.
Duterte said his previous strong support for the project was anchored on the belief that it would help solve an impending power crisis.
“But it’s a different matter when the fresh water of Davao will… be compromised,” he said.
Based on Aboitiz data, the coal-fired plant will need more than half a million cubic meters of water per year to cool down its generators.
Duterte said the problem was that Aboitiz never said it would bore wells to draw ground water for its needs.
“This is fresh water we are talking about,” he said. “This is a supply that is intended for the next-generation Dabawenyos.”
Manuel Orig, Aboitiz first vice president for Mindanao affairs, said they would discuss the issue with Duterte and the city council.
The Network Opposed to Coal (No to Coal-Davao) said it was happy about Duterte’s turnaround.
“Thank you, Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for taking up the issue of water that will be used by the coal-fired power plant in Binugao. I promise you that one day soon you will also find that the drinking water sources will be contaminated with mercury, arsenic, molybdenum, cadmium, manganese, etc…” said Dr. Jean Lindo, No to Coal convenor.