Philippines: Officials Back Revival of Pampanga River Control System
In a bid to address the perennial flood problems in the province, Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado recently proposed the revival of the mothballed Pampanga River Control System (PRCS).
The PRCS is an agency tasked by the national government to maintain and dredge the river systems in Bulacan and Pampanga.
“Its about time we dredge the heavily silted river systems in Bulacan. The solution is not to widen or built new flood control river systems but to desilt our existing rivers,” Alvarado told local mediamen at the command center of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).
Alvarado made the suggestion after noticing that the capital city of Malolos has experience its worse flooding in about 20 years, the same number of years gone-by after the PRCS was closed down to give way for the Mt. Pinatubo Commission in order to save the City of San Fernando and other key areas in Pampanga and nearby provinces that were severely affected by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.
He said that 20 years ago, the Labangan channel, the major floodways in Bulacan, was about seven meters deep but in the past 20 years it has gone to two meters deep, thus losing five meters of its water- carrying capacity.
Alvarado added that during those times when the PRCS was still overseeing the maintenance of the river systems and flood control systems in Bulacan and Pampanga, it has in its disposal two big dredgers—the Damayan 1 and Damayan 2.
After the Mt. Pinatubo Commission was created, the two dredgers were sent to Pampanga to save the City of San Fernando which was then heavily damaged by lahar that were spewed by Mt. Pinatubo.
“The government should purchase new dredgers to desilt our rivers,” said Alvarado, who is the chairman of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) and concurrent chair of the infrastructure committee of the Regional Development Council in Central Luzon.
It is about time to revive the PRCS to solve the massive flooding in Bulacan and nearby towns of Pampanga, the governor added.
He said that during typhoon season and every time that the dam’s upstream release waters, the heavily-silted Angat river which snakes through the low-lying coastal towns of Calumpit and Hagonoy seems to look like an ordinary drainage system.
Alvarado also disclosed that the PDRRMC was shocked after learning that officials at Ipo dam has released 856 cubic meters per second (cms) of water after the dam’s spilling level of 101 meters was breached.
He said that the release of water has forced officials at Bustos dam, where the released waters of Ipo Dam flows downstream, to release 700 cms, thus aggravating the heavy flooding brought by intense monsoon rainfall that hit large part of Luzon since Monday.
Alvarado said he called and was able to convince Manila Water and Sewerage System Administrator (MWSS) Gerry Esquivel to stop the release of huge volume of water from Ipo dam.
“This is another case when the operators of Ipo dam decide to release excess waters from their dam without proper coordination with officials at Bustos and to the PDRRMC. Things could have gotten worse if not for our continuous vigil in monitoring the status of the two big dams of Ipo and Bustos and Angat dam as well,” the governor said.
He also said that the flooding in many parts of the province was due to the non-stop heavy downpours that pounded the province and other parts of Luzon.
Press Release, August 29, 2012