Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Vol. IV, No. 33 September 19 - 25, 2004 Quezon City, Philippines
Worse Floods To Hit CL
Expect worse floods to hit Central Luzon when heavy rains fall. An expert on water studies who is also a government official believes there’s no way government’s supposed flood control system in the region can still control floods.
AUBREY STA. CRUZ MAKILAN
Leonardo Liongson, Ph.D., director of the National Hydraulic Research Center (NHRC) and professor of civil engineering at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City said “Central Luzon as a whole is a big problem [on the issue of flooding].”
Interviewed by Bulatlat over the weekend, Liongson, who is also a member of the National Water Resources Board under the Office of the President, said government has no viable flood control system even with the presence of dams, dikes and pumping stations in the region.
Officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH, Region III) in Central Luzon just north of Manila confirmed the UP engineer’s assessment on the region’s flood system.
comprehensive flood control
by Bulatlat whether there is any comprehensive flood control plan,
a DPWH-Region III official, who asked not to be named, said that a plan
has been presented to the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC)
and various non-government organizations (NGOs).
another engineer from the same office, Albin Carreon, said that there is
no master plan for the whole of Central Luzon although there are ongoing
projects. These projects, like dams, dikes and pumping stations are not
however enough for a full flood control network in the region.
these projects were not built especially for worse case scenarios. One of
these is the controversial San Roque dam which began operation in 2002.
Calaycay, community relations officer of Napocor’s Flood Forecasting and
Warning System for Dam Operations said in a phone interview that the San
Roque Dam can accommodate waters spilling from Ambuklao and Binga dams in
Benguet province. He said however that all three dams have small water
reservoirs and minimal flood control system since the structures were only
designed for power generation.
Bulatlat report last week indeed confirmed that the San Roque Dam
began operation sans the other non-power components such as flood control,
irrigation and water quality.
confirmed that when Typhoon Marce hit Luzon, Ambuklao in Bokod, Benguet
and Binga in Itogon same province, released excess waters which the San
Roque Dam absorbed. With the water level at the San Roque Dam rising above
the 280-meter normal high water level however the dam’s spillway was
kept open from Aug. 26-30.
tasa rin ‘yan, kung pupunuin, aapaw din” (It’s like a cup that
overflows when filled with water), Calaycay said. As a result, he added,
about P70 million worth of projected generated power was lost due to the
water spill. Water had to be released to prevent the dam from breaking, he
to separate reports, the waters released by San Roque inundated 90 percent
of Pangasinan especially the towns of San Manuel itself, Tayugg, Rosales,
Bayambang and Bautista.
Calaycay denied that the reports that the dam’s excess water caused the massive
flooding in Pangasinan, and other provinces in Central Luzon, since
the dam’s gate was only opened “gradually” and residents were warned
an hour before the release of water.
are another matter. Built to protect communities from flood and lahar
(volcanic mudflows) that has continued to stream during heavy rains since
the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991, dams are often damaged during massive
floods. Damage to dikes is either on their foundation (called “toe
damage” by engineers) or due to erosion which is common to earth dikes.
In fact, the Colibangbang
Dike in Paniqui, Tarlac and the Arnedo and Magliman Earthdikes both in San
Fernando, Pampanga were among those damaged by cascading waters during
dikes protect towns from flood they can also aggravate the flooding if the
local drainage system is defective. This usually takes place when small
dikes are not built strong enough to accommodate large bodies of water.
When confined, water would overflow undersized dikes and eventually
pump stations, on the other hand, are built to divert water from
overflowing dikes to river tributaries and other channels. But Central
Luzon, according to leaders of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or
New Patriotic Alliance)-Pampanga, has only one functional pump station and
this is located in San Fernando City, the provincial capital.
the San Fernando station on Sept. 4, Bulatlat found only one yellow
small pipe is sipping in water from the Pampanga River. Some towns in the
province remained flooded yet the motors of the station’s large pipes
were shut down as the water near the station had subsided.
Corruption, according to Liongson, is the bigger culprit. Viable flood control projects could not be built or existing projects cannot be maintained adequately due to corruption.
Furthermore, most funds for flood control projects come from foreign assistance – which is not always available.
For instance, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) used to fund big projects in the country. To implement bigger projects today, the Philippine government borrows money from the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC). The national government, as far as infrastructure is concerned, only funds operations and maintenance, Liongson said. Bulatlat