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Vol. IV, No. 30 August 29 - September 4, 2004 Quezon City, Philippines
Roque Dam Behind the Massive Flooding
After the construction of the San Roque Dam, residents of Pangasinan started experiencing six-foot high floods every time a typhoon would hit the country. Last week’s flooding was no different, as heavy rains and strong winds brought 90% of Pangasinan under water, killing six persons and affecting 59,908 families as of press time.
JHONG DELA CRUZ
CITY – Towns in eastern and central Pangasinan serve as catch
basin for floodwaters coming from the mountains of Cordillera and Mt.
Ampucao. These are Urbiztondo, San Fabian, Calasiao, Sta. Barbara,
Mangaldan and Villasis towns and cities of Urdaneta, Dagupan and San
Carlos. With the Ambuclao and Binga dams in the northern province of
Benguet opening their gates because of the three-day heavy monsoon
downpour, the San Roque dam also released several meters of water,
endangering the lives of Pangasinan residents, particularly those living
along the Agno river.
groups in Pangasinan believe the San Roque dam, located in San Manuel
town, is causing the perennial flooding of several Pangasinan towns and
cities, as demonstrated during the heavy rains last week, which saw the
flooding reach “disastrous proportions.”
province’s major highways became impassable to all types of
vehicles, including the Sta.Barbara-Urdaneta City, Dagupan City-Lingayen,
Bugallon-Lingayen and Dagupan City-San Fabian routes.
Dagupan, tractors ferried people along the flooded stretch of the McArthur
Highway in Lucao District.
Bureau’s Flood Forecasting Center based in Rosales town said the heavy
rainfall might have caused the major river systems in the province to
overflow and spill over plains. Recorded rainfall reached 348 mm on
Thursday but this, according to the bureau, was lower compared to strong
rains spawned by typhoon Chedeng that hit the country in May last year,
which was up to 744 mm.
and Ingalera, major rivers traversing along severely affected towns in
central Pangasinan, rose three feet higher than normal during the typhoon.
Local officials suspect that the tributaries of these river systems are
heavily silted causing water level to rise steadfastly during typhoons.
The poor drainage systems in the affected cities, on the other hand,
worsened the flooding problem in their localities and nearby towns.
from Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) showed 59,908
families were affected and six individuals have been reported killed as of
press time. Eighty percent of the province is still submerged in flood.
Damage to agriculture was estimated at PhP181, 644, 500 million.
massive flooding has prompted local officials to declare the province
under a state of calamity.
Pangasinenses believe that the construction of the San Roque Dam could
have worsened the flooding in the province. The dam is located in San
Manuel, Pangasinan and started operations last years.
data gathered by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance
or Bayan) – Pangasinan revealed that over 88,814 households were
affected in more than 90 villages. According to Rev. Fr. Eleuterio
Revollido, Bayan-Pangasinan chair, “Excess water released from San Roque
Dam greatly contribute to massive flooding here since it begun operating
in May 2003.”
Marquez, 54, a long-time resident of Barangay Bayaoas in Urdaneta town,
Pangasinan, said that there used to be flooding but not yearly and not at
the height it reaches now. Since the dam’s construction, he said, they
have been experiencing floods more than six feet high several times a
Marquez said the worst was when typhoon Chedeng hit the country in May last year. His family was forced to evacuate and their stored food and livestock destroyed. Marquez fears that his small hut would be destroyed by the constant flooding.
Chedeng brought unprecedented flooding in central Pangasinan, just a week
after San Roque Dam’s inauguration. A congressional inquiry was later
conducted but no significant results came up. The San Roque Power
Corporation (SRPC) which operates the dam is an Independent Power Producer
(IPP) funded by Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
protest in local and international level, San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam was
approved in 1998, supposedly to address the widespread electricity problem
in the country. It promised to provide 345 megawatts of electricity that,
according to SRD officials, would be sufficient to support the growing
need of commercial industries. The dam construction was completed in March
2003 and became operational in May.
The SRD released excess water from its two spillways once on August 26 and twice the following day. One of the project’s major components when approved in 1998 was the flood control component. Officials say this should have been put in place before its operation and could have alleviated the recurrent flooding in the province.
Sto. Tomas municipal councilor scored over a local radio station SRMP’s
promised flood control.
“Kahit ilang bagyo kaya raw nitong solusyonan,” he complained, “bakit ngayon, wala pa namang bagyo, umulan lang, di na niya maampat ang tubig-ulan?”
Bayan-Pangasinan maintains that SRD has not contributed to the solution of the flooding but has in fact aggravated it. The alliance proposes the decommissioning of the dam’s operation to solve the problem.
Mayor Amadeo Perez of Urdaneta City called on the provincial government to
dispatch rubber boats to rescue residents of Sitio Cavite, San Manuel, the area
nearest the SRMP spillway.
the local government has implemented several flood-alleviating measures
such as dredging and desiltation in Urdaneta and Dagupan towns, and
reforestation along Agno River flood plains. With reports from Lyn
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