“A huge floodway (or a spillway) would be useful in taking the Metro Manla’s floodwaters out to sea.”
by Ducky Paredes
Clearly, something has to be done about the floods in Metro Manila. Year on year, the flooding seems to be getting worse. Of course, Ondoy was a worse one but only because the flood came upon us much more quickly. More water in six hours than two days of hard rain this time around.
For those of us with some other place to go (hopefully, floodless), if the problem of Metro Manila will not be fixed, perhaps, the better plan would be to move out. As a matter of fact, if enough people leave the country’s capital, the better it will be for everyone. I have a place in Mindanao that I might just move to just to avoid the floods. (If, that is, one sees no end to this yearly visitation of Leptospirosis and the floods that brings on the disease.
Metro Manila, is on a flood plain for three rivers — Marikina, Napindan and Pasig. Thus, there will always be floods unless some re-engineering of the area is attempted. Water belongs in the sea not on shore. Thus, what has to be built is a way for the excess water on land to be brought to the sea, where it can do little harm.
Weren’t there plans for a floodway as well (unbuilt until now) as well as a dredging of Manila de Bay, the largest lake in the country, and which also causes the floods in Pasig City, when the lake waters rise. A huge floodway (or a spillway) would be useful in taking the Metro Manla’s floodwaters out to sea.
We are told that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has a master plan for effective and comprehensive flood management in the region up to 2035. This will, however, cost at least P351.72 billion in infrastructure spending. The DPWH plan would also “develop a safe society that is resilient to floods,” as per the plans of the DPWH’s Project Management Office for Major Flood Control Projects.
On July 31, the National Economic and Development Authority’s (Neda) Sub-Committee on Water Resources approved the plan, which covers a total of 11 infrastructure projects, including the construction of a large dam in Marikina that will cost P198.43 billion.
But the master plan still needs the final approval of the Neda board.
Apparently aware of the master plan, the President announced, during his swing through evacuation centers in Marikina, Quezon City, Valenzuela and Navotas, that there were at least three infrastructure projects that could be finished in two to three years to deal with the perennial flooding in the metropolis and outlying areas.
He was talking about a ring-road dike on the rim of Laguna de Bay, embankments and catch basins in the Marikina River watershed and an 8-kilometer dike and pumping station in Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) area.
The “high priority” projects are the Manila core area drainage improvements, P27.2 billion; East Manggahan Floodway and improvement in Cainta and Taytay rivers, P26 billion; Malabon-Tullahan river improvements, P21.6 billion; Meycauayan river improvements, P14.04 billion; Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan river improvements, P8.631 billion; land-raising for small cities around Laguna lake, P7.15 billion; and improvement of inflow rivers to Laguna lake, P637 million.
Also in the works are “marginal priority” projects: South Parañaque-Las Piñas river improvements, P17.3 billion; and West Manggahan area drainage improvements, P5.52 billion.
One huge problem is that these projects would require the “resettlement” of at least close to s million people, mostly illegal settlers. One would think that, because of their being illegal, all that one has to do is to strictly apply the law. Of course, nothing is ever that easy and “illegals” have been known to resist even the police.
A DPWH report last year noted that “as of Dec. 31, 2011, a total of 14,853 structures along esteros, rivers and other waterways leading to Manila Bay, as well as 161 illegal fish pens in Regions III (Central Luzon) and IV-A (Calabarzon) had been dismantled.”
The report continued: “As of first quarter of 2012, a total of 195 kilometers, covering 112 rivers and 41 sections of drainage canals nationwide, were also cleared. An additional 422 illegal structures along rivers in Region II (Cagayan Valley) were also dismantled.”
Of course, in reality, these DPWH accomplishments are a drop in a huge bucket.
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What needs to be done is this: First, put together a master plan that will clear the waterways, dredge what needs dredging and provide passageways for the water to get to the sea quicker.
Then, implement that plan and brook no opposition. If people are not allowed to build on or alongside the esteros and riverbanks, then, strictly enforce that. No one should be allowed in these places. It is dangerous for the people living by the water. The danger to them is increased because they also use the water where they live as dumping places for their garbage, which include a lot of plastic bags that will tend to block passage of floodwaters.
No matter what we build, or how much money is thrown at the problem, if we continue to lack the political will to enforce the rules, there will be no end to our Metro Manila floods.
A lot of cities in other places are even below sea level; yet, they have minimal flooding. How did they do this? Clearly, there were rules to what can be built and how these ought to be designed. Unlike here, in those places, the rules were strictly followed.
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Clearly, there has been an improvement. The last time we had massive floods in Metro Manila (Ondoy), thousands died. This time around, the toll was down to less than a hundred. We (and the government) learned from our experience with Ondoy!
For this country to break out of the rut we are in, Metro Manila must be made flood-proof!
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hvp 08.13.12Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org