Preparations for a historic effort to clean up the Pasig River, to be fully funded by San Miguel Corporation and jointly undertaken with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Public Works and Highways are now in full swing, with the first intensive studies on the riverbed currently underway, the company reported.
SMC is looking to remove 600,000 metric tons of waste per year from the Pasig River, with the actual cleanup to start in May.
SMC president Ramon Ang said the company has already completed the initial bathymetric survey of the Pasig River, from the Pandacan, Manila area going upstream. Further studies of the Manila Bay to Pandacan area are also now underway, using new equipment the company acquired.
Bathymetry is the study of the ocean, lake, or river floors, to determine their topography and characteristics underwater. The studies are the first to be done for these sections of the Pasig River.
“This is a very important environmental effort, and we want to do it right. Cleaning up the Pasig River has been a dream for many Filipinos, even our older generations, so we want to make sure our plan is strategic and effective. While we will use science and utilize modern technology, this project can only succeed with the cooperation of all stakeholders,” Ang said.
“We are grateful for the support of (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu and (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar. They will be key to making this project a success. Their expertise and ability to mobilize support from many stakeholders are vital to this initiative,” he added.
Ang said the company recently took delivery of a marine echo sounder, a hydrographic survey equipment that uses sonar to determine the depths of water, by sending acoustic waves into the water.
Apart from bathymetric survey, SMC said it is also looking to conduct a soil test from Manila Bay to Pandacan, every 400 meters. The company has also coordinated with the DPWH to request its consultants to conduct its own hydrographic study and dredging plan.
“According to the DPWH, there have been no previous studies or dredging plans for the Pasig River near the Manila Bay. There were previous studies with JICA but that was for the area near Marikina river. So this is a historic effort. With the government and private sector working together, combining our efforts, resources, and technical know-how, I’m sure we will succeed in cleaning up Pasig River,” Ang said.
Apart from the studies, Ang relayed that the draft memorandum of agreement between SMC and the DENR is now undergoing review, with DPWH also a signatory, in order to formalize the formation of a joint venture between SMC and the government agencies.
Ang said that apart from the survey equipment, SMC has also acquired equipment specifically for the Pasig River cleanup. These include a Cutter Suction Dredger and 800 metric ton hopper barge capable of removing 50,000 metric tons of silt and solid waste per month, or a total of 600,000 metric tons per year.
The company is also acquiring an amphibious excavator for dredging shallow waters and for river widening.
Currently, SMC is undertaking another massive and historic river cleanup project—its P1 billion initiative to dredge the 27-kilometer Tullahan-Tinajeros River system.
Earlier this month, or less than a year since SMC started work on that project, SMC reported dredging a total of 168,000 metric tons of waste from the Tullahan. It is set to double its daily dredging capacity to 1,500 metric tons per day. The project is aimed at helping mitigate flooding in Valenzuela, Navotas, Malabon, Quezon City, and Bulacan.
SMC’s Pasig River cleanup project is part of its P95 billion project to build the Pasig River Expressway, an elevated toll road along the banks of the Pasig, which will connect the east and west sides of Metro Manila, from R-10 road in Manila to Edsa and C-5.
The project is seen to decongest traffic in Rizal, Cainta, and Marikina. It will also provide easier access to the central business districts of Makati, Ortigas, and Bonifacio Global City, and also connect to the Skyway system.