Dredge rivers, tributaries in flood-prone areas, Pacquiao urges

Published November 17, 2020, 3:31 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Instead of fighting mother nature particularly the destructive typhoons that cause massive flooding in low-lying and catch-basin areas in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga and Pangasinan, boxing icon Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao today said the simple solution is to dredge all rivers and tributaries in flood-prone areas by at least 10 meters deep.

Senator Manny Pacquiao

Pacquaio, chairman of the Senate public works committee,  said that aside from constructing flood control systems, the government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other pertinent government agencies should launch a massive dredging program on all rivers and other water tributaries to contain floodwaters during heavy rainfall caused by typhoons and the monsoon.

The eight-time world champion said that every year, lives and livelihood are lost because of massive floods such as the one caused by typhoon ‘’Ulysses.’’

This cycle will continue to take place if the government will not take any action to divert and properly impound floodwaters coming from upland areas and dams and the rainwater, Pacquiao explained.

He said that if the entire stretch of the Marikina river and the Pasig River and other secondary tributaries surrounding Metro Manila has an additional depth of at least 10 meters from their current state, the flooding that took place in Marikina and in some areas in Rizal would have not happened.

Pacquiao surmised that Pasig River which is 25 kilometers long and  Marikina River which is 78 kilometers long  would be sufficient to accommodate huge volumes of floodwater even during extended rainfall events similar to what happened during typhoon Ondoy and now typhoon Ulysses if both tributaries have an added depth of at least 10 meters.

The same could be done with the 505-kilometer Cagayan river, the 270-kilometer Pampanga river  and the 233-kilometer Chico River which would suppress any flooding incidents  in the Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and the Cordilleras,  respectively.

These areas were the hardest hit by typhoon Ulysses which caused ‘’massive’’ loss of lives and properties, Pacquiao said.

Laguna Lake, which is 911.7 square kilometers should be also dredged as part of the government’s flood control solution.

“It’s a no brainer. Kapag malalim ang ating mga ilog at mga estero, mas maiiwasan ng posibilidad na umagos ang tubig-baha papunta sa ating mga kabahayan. Dapat diyan natin ibuhos ang ating flood control program at hindi kung saan-saan na mga proyekto na paulit-ulit lang. What we need is a long-term and sustain flood control program,” Pacquiao said. (If the rivers and esteros are deep, the possibility of floodwaters flowing to populated areas would be lessened. Our flood program should be geared to a program and not small projects that lead to nowhere and redone several times.)  

Pacquiao said that by this time, the government already has enough data to determine areas that are flood-prone and the which waterways would need dredging.

To ensure compliance of the local government units (LGUs) in maintaining the depth of the tributaries in their areas, Congress could file a bill which would provide automatic allocation for the management of their waterways.

The DILG could monitor the program and can exercise administrative oversight to ensure its implementation, Pacquiao pointed out.

On top of the massive river-dredging project in flood-prone areas, Pacquiao also proposed that the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)  should conduct a study on how to create rain catchment and water impounding facilities especially in the National Capital Region (NCR) which could be processed by water concessionaires.

This way, the government would be able to reduce flooding as floodwaters are diverted into these impounding facilities while ensuring that the people would have an abundant and cheap supply of potable water and the farmers would have a year-round supply of water to irrigate their farms, Pacquaio said. 

This system will also help protect planet Earth by preserving the country’s groundwater which is a fast-diminishing global resource. 

Pacquiao said that the technology itself is nothing new or complex because this is already practiced even during ancient times which could be traced as far back as the Neolithic age.

He stressed that nearly all countries in the Middle East, Singapore, Thailand, Brazil, China, New Zealand and even Germany have been using water-impounding facilities for floodwaters and rainwater harvesting solutions to supplement their traditional sources of potable water.