Laguna de Bay rehab project to address flooding; endorsed for NEDA-ICC review

The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) has disclosed the endorsement of a proposed P609-billion rehabilitation and development project that can help address flooding around the Laguna Lake region.


"After months of review and evaluation," LLDA General Manager Jaime Medina said the agency’s Board of Directors has recommended the proposed Laguna Lake Development and Rehabilitation Project.

The LLDA Board of Directors is chaired by Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu.

The endorsement comes in the aftermath of successive strong tropical cyclones, the latest of which is typhoon Ulysses that triggered massive flooding in Metro Manila, Rizal province, and other areas in Luzon.

"This is a welcome opportunity as this will truly aid in addressing the Laguna Lake’s continual problems in siltation, industrial pollution, sedimentation, and lakeshore flooding," Medina said in a statement on Wednesday.

The consortium is led by Taguig Lake City Development Corporation (TLCDC), with two big foreign companies as partners that have the experience, expertise and track record in undertaking such project.

Medina said the project proponent has been issued "original proponent status" (OPS), and the project is now under review by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), through its Public-Private Partnership Center.

He pointed out that the LLDA endorsement will be eventually evaluated by NEDA’s Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) to determine the reasonable rate of return and other parameters for negotiation.

The NEDA Board will ultimately approve or deny the proposal, he added.

Medina said the consortium, after being granted the OPS, has now the authority to match better offers submitted by other rivals when a Swiss challenge is undertaken for the project.

The rehabilitation project, which will be undertaken in a span of five to 10 years, includes the dredging of approximately 800 million cubic meters of silt and mud.

It also involves assistance to affected fisherfolk and other stakeholders, as well as silt transfer and development of pre-identified catchment area to be done in phases while the dredging process progresses.

The said project also includes soil treatment, ground improvement and development, the construction of a water treatment facility and the introduction of a soil improvement technology called the High Vacuum Densification Method (HVDM).

The "unsolicited" proposal will be under the Build-Own-Operate (BOO) scheme, which means that the proponent will finance, construct, operate, maintain and own facility and can collect fees and charges to recover their investment.

The government, on the other hand, will provide the authorization and assistance in securing the BOO contract and has the option to buy the output or service provided by the operator.

The Laguna de Bay is the largest lake in the Philippines, with around 100 rivers and streams draining into it, making it prone to flooding.

The Napindan Channel, through the Pasig River, drains the lake waters to Manila Bay.

During the onslaught of typhoon Ulysses, Laguna Lake overflowed causing severe flooding and affecting thousands of residents in several municipalities and cities in Laguna, such as Famy, Sta Cruz, Calamba, and San Pedro.

Due to strong winds and currents, fish pens in Laguna de Bay were wiped out and unleashed some 2.2 million kilograms of bangus or milkfish estimated to cost P115 million in losses to fish operators of Laguna during typhoon Rolly.