River worries Las Pinas Village

February 2, 2023 Mario Fetalino Jr. 454 views

Mario FetalinoALTHOUGH summer is first to come this year, a small village in Las Pinas City is very much concerned about the imminent arrival of the rainy season.

The wet periods usually start in the country as early as June but they can be felt at any moment nowadays due to the effects of climate change.

Residents of Woodridge Village in Pulang Lupa Dos are afraid flood could hit their community again once the rains are back.

Waist-deep rainwater flooded the low-lying area of the small subdivision when typhoon Paeng struck Metro Manila late last year, displacing many families.

Flooding in the area occurs when there’s too much rainfall as the river beside the village swells. Instead of serving as an outlet, the swollen tributary pumps excess water into the enclave.

The matter was already referred to the local government and the village is awaiting response. There’s a lot of hoping that Mayor Imelda Aguilar could give attention to the concern.

Meanwhile, residents in Bulacan are luckier with San Miguel Corporation (SMC) expecting its P2-billion Pasig River cleanup project to cross the one million metric tons threshold in silt and solid wastes removed, by next month.

SMC dredging teams are focusing their efforts on both ends of the river–the Manila Bay and Laguna Lake, where significant water flow restriction is known to occur.

SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang reported that with the company’s ongoing cleanup, the Pasig River’s flood-carrying capacity has significantly improved. From just two to three meters deep at the start of the project, completed sections now have depths of up to five to six meters.

Ang added that the target one million tons by February will be achieved just 20 months after the initiative was launched in July 2021, with the support of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government units.

Ang said the pace of its clean-up activities at the Pasig River is considerably faster compared to its earlier project to clean up the Tullahan River, owing to its deployment of more heavy equipment and personnel.

SMC’s Tullahan River cleanup, which removed some 1.12 million metric tons of silt and waste from sections of the river traversing Navotas, Caloocan, Malabon and Valenzuela, took a total of 27 months.

To date, SMC’s cleanup teams have extracted a total of 927,198 metric tons of silt and waste from the Pasig River, with monthly targets now at more than 70,000 tons.

Apart from removing wastes and improving the flow and carrying capacity of the river to help mitigate flooding, navigability and safety for ferries and other vessels have also improved.

SMC is happy to note that the easing of restrictions, along with the additional personnel and equipment they were able to put on the ground, are now allowing the company to achieve its cleanup targets much faster.

“Hopefully, by the time the rainy season sets in later this year, our cities will feel the benefits of the Pasig River’s larger carrying capacity, along with government’s other flood mitigation and control programs,”Ang said.

SMC’s historic Pasig River cleanup, said to be the largest such initiative to date by a single private enterprise, caught the attention of Japanese shipping giant NYK Line last year.

The firm, whose seafarers are mostly Filipino, supported the project via a $1.5 million grant for the purchase of additional equipment. SMC has pegged the cost of its entire Pasig River clean-up at P2 billion, or close to $ 37 million.

The increase in output from the Pasig River effort is also partly due to the addition of the San Juan River–a major tributary to the Pasig River–to the coverage area.

With a length of around 10 kilometers, the San Juan River emanates from Quezon City and passes through Manila, San Juan, and Mandaluyong, leading to the Pasig River.

Compared to SMC’s earlier Tullahan River cleanup, the positive impacts of its Pasig River effort will be felt in even more areas. It will benefit not just people from Metro Manila, but also many who are living in Rizal, all the way to Laguna de Bay.

Apart from increasing the river’s capacity to receive floodwaters, the cleanup will also reduce peak water flows that normally go to the Laguna Lake, via the Manggahan Floodway.

In many instances, areas near the Laguna Lake experience flooding during heavy rainfall or typhoons, because of heavy siltation, which causes the lake to overflow.

Siltation of major tributaries, apart from pollution, is among the major challenges that need to be addressed to better manage flooding.

Meanwhile, at the request of the local government units in Bulacan, San Miguel has also started cleanup efforts at the Meycauayan River, one of the tributaries that make up the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando-River System (MMORS).

This is also to help address flooding in the province. To date, a total of 147,661 metric tons of silt and waste have been removed from this area.

Good job SMC.


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