WB-IFC to help Clark find surface water source

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    CLARK FREEPORT – The World Bank’s International Finance Corp. (IFC) has committed helping the state-owned Clark Development Corp. (CDC) find alternative source of water for this freeport’s growing number of investors amid estimates that the full potential of underground water supply here would be inadequate by 2012.

    The IFC and CDC signed here the other day the Financial Advisory Services Agreement (FASA) for a $1.7 billion feasibility study “to address the current and future requirements” of this freeport and surrounding communities under the CDC’s Metro Clark Bulk Surface Water Project. 

    In an interview with Punto, IFC director for infrastructure and advisory services Laurence Carter said one “major concern” of the project is finding surface water source for Clark and nearby areas amid limitations of underground water or aquifer which is now the only source of water for local folk.

    CDC environment department manager Red Fuentes said that the underground water source or aquifer that Clark shares with nearby cities and towns can provide a maximum of 57,000 cubic meters of water daily.

    However, its critical level was estimated at 80 percent of its capacity or about 45,000 cubic meters per day.

    Fuentes said that on the average, Clark investors already consume about 30,000 cubic meters of water daily amid estimates of 20 to 30 percent increase yearly in the number of investors here in the past three years.

    “Because of the dry weather brought by El Nino, Mimosa and Fontana resorts have been using more water for their golf courses, at the rate of 10,000 cubic meters of water every day,” he noted.

    Carter said that under the agreement signed with the CDC, he IFC will provide “advice on structuring a public-private partnership that will lead to a concessionaire to provide water” to Clark and nearby areas.

    He stressed that “the major concern” is to find surface water sources amid limitations of the local aquifer.

    Carter said that of the $1.7 million cost of the feasibility study, some $1 million would be a grant that will be worked out with potential donor countries such as Great Britian, the Netherlands and Austria.

    Carter lauded the CDC for preparing for the future water needs of Clark and nearby communities, as he noted the IFC’s concern over the threat of water scarcity worldwide. “Climate change is affecting water situations all over the world,” he said.

    CDC president and chief executive officer Benigno Ricafort said the CDC will be paying the IFC only minimally for its advisory services, as  IFC will shoulder $0.5 million from its internal funds and work out a grant for $1 million.

    Fuentes said that the feasibility study will incorporate a study done by the firm Woodward-Clyde way back in 1999. The study established that Clark’s water needs could be filled in by waterways running on the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo.

    The now silent volcano, whose eruption in 1991 was one of the biggest in the last century, has a lake crater in its summit and has rivers, waterfalls, and streams running on its slopes.
    The IFC is one of the five members of the World Bank Group. Its website says the IFC “helps companies and financial institutions in emerging markets create jobs, generate tax revenues, improve corporate governance and environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities.”

    “We are very thankful that IFC favorably considered our project among its various projects worldwide. With the IFC’s able assistance, we will be able to better plan and address water requirements of the Clark Freeport and the Metro Clark vicinity,” Ricafort said.

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