Public Works earmarks P351b for flood control

The Department of Public Works and Highways will continue to implement its 15-year master plan for flood management in Metro Manila and surrounding areas, with a total cost of P351.71 billion, and for 2016 alone, the agency will need P54.6 billion for flood management services.

During the budget hearing conducted by the House committee on appropriations chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson expounded on the agency’s flood management master plan as it defended the DPWH’s proposed P391.17-billion total budget for 2016.

The P54.6-billion flood management services budget shall fund 1,135 DPWH projects involving construction and maintenance of flood mitigation structures and drainage system, and the construction and rehabilitation of flood mitigation structures along major river basins and principal rivers.

Since the Aquino’s term, the DPWH managed to implement 9,479 flood control and drainage projects from July 2010 to March 2015. These projects include dikes, revetment and river walls, waterways, drainage mains, and mini dams.

Singson said effective flood control program is among the six key strategic policies and programs of the DPWH, the others are: good governance reform and anti-corruption; better quality and safer national roads and bridges program; strategic convergence program; public private partnership program; and resiliency program.

Singson said the DPWH is using a holistic approach in addressing the flood problem in Metro Manila and surrounding places, and it involves long-term solutions.

“This is the approach that we are doing, and it involves our major rivers nationwide. Long term ang solution kaya lang medyo naiinip ang mga kababayan natin gusto nila overnight solution. Unfortunately, this does not happen that way. The interventions both structural and non-structural take a few years to implement. But what is important is that we have a master plan that guides us in addressing our water resources,” Singson told lawmakers.

Singson said it took them in the DPWH some time to complete the master plan for flood management in Metro Manila and surrounding areas, and they managed to focus on 19 major rivers nationwide which cover more than 50 provinces.

“We have avoided the use of political boundaries in planning flood management. We felt the only way we can effectively plan is to use a river basin approach. So we adopted two key major policies in terms of our flood control program,” said Singson.

The first policy is the integrated water resource principle according to Singson. “Which means we want to conserve water from upstream and by doing so, we were able to maximize its use for irrigation, domestic use and hydropower, in the process minimizing flooding downstream. We believe you have to address a river basin, the solution cannot be by political boundaries. It’s a matter of addressing the flood problem in a holistic manner through an integrated water resource management,” he said.

Singson said part of the DPWH water management approach is convergence with the Department of Science and Technology’s Project Noah. He said Project Noah is now complete in all of the 19 major rivers in the country which means people can now determine how these river basins will behave because of the predicted amount of rainfall.

“The DoST has been able to install rain gauges and sensors    so that if they can predict the strength of rain in the upstream, then they will be able to advise the communities on which of them will be flooded and how high their water levels will go. So that’s already done, that’s already available in communities so they can be given enough warning in terms of which communities    will be flooded based on a projected rainfall,” said Singson.

After completing the master plan, the DPWH was able to identify three major causes of flood in Metro Manila, namely: huge volume of water coming from Sierra Madre; drainage capacity constraints in core areas of Metro Manila; and low lying communities around Manila Bay and Laguna Lake.

The master plan for flood management for Metro Manila and surrounding areas involve 11 key program components. Among those already completed is the Pasig-Marikina Channel Improvement Project, Phase 2 while Phase 3 shall be completed by 2017.

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