THE National Water Resources Board (NWRB) denied three water permit applications of Goldlink Global Energy Corporation which can directly affect the city-owned Asin mini-hydroelectric plants.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan hailed the decision upholding the city and the Baguio Water District’s prior water rights for the operation of the plants but expressed hopes the city can still work out a mutually beneficial arrangement with Goldlink and the Benguet Provincial Government that will allow the city-owned plants to co-exist with those they plan to build to benefit both local government units.

In a decision dated March 3, 2017, signed by Board Executive Director Dr. Sevillo David Jr., the board “partially” granted the oppositions filed by the BWD and the City Government and denied three of the 10 water permit applications of Goldlink namely CAR-BEN-2014-11014; CAR-BEN-2014-11093 and CAR-BEN-2014-11092.

Citing the findings of the ocular inspection conducted by the board in the area, the three applications were found to “cause adverse effects to the Asin mini-hydro.”

Two other applications -- CAR-BEN-2012-01-029 and CAR-BEN-2013-08-047 -- which were not included in the case but were also found to have effect on the hydros, will be endorsed by the board to their water rights division for action while the seven remaining applications which have no direct effect “may be processed and submitted to the Board for approval subject to strict compliance to all requirements…,” according to the decision.

“Regardless of who between the (BWD) and the City of Baguio owns Asin Mini-Hydro and whether or not they have the proper authority to engage in such activity, what is clear to this Board is that there are

prior water permits issued which will suffer reduction if not deprivation of water right if the previously stated water permit applications are granted,” the board said.

“With regard to allegations of non-use, this Board unfortunately, is acting on limited jurisdiction in this case. Thus, it may not cancel the water permits issued for Asin Mini-Hydro without violating the rights to due process of grantee, (BWD). The matter is best dealt with in a separate proceeding.”

Goldlink, with the concurrence of the Tuba town officials, proposed three hydroelectric projects in Tadiangan, Sallapan, and Nangalisan villages.

The Department of Energy earlier terminated the contracts for the facilities in Sallapan and Nangalisan after finding they overlap with the city’s Asin plants.

As this developed, residents whose lands were affected by the city-owned mini-hydroelectric plants in Tadiangan and Nangalisan villages asked the City Government to give them two weeks to finalize the list of beneficiaries of the compensation for their properties traversed by the facilities.

Domogan said the P2.7 million is now ready for release after the city council approved a resolution waiving the city’s claims for damages as a result of the case filed by the city for the disruption of the water supply to the facilities. (PR)