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Gov. Alvarado suggests another dam for Manila
Friday, 11 November 2011
CITY OF MALOLOS- A shocking report welcomed the Bulacan Provincial officials headed by Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado, Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando and members of the Sanguniang Panglalawigan as a dam engineer disclosed that one of the concessionaires of the Manila Water and Sewerage System is directly using the Ipo dam as its own reservoir for 14 years now.

This alarming revelation cropped up during the executive session of the Sanguniang Panglalawigan initiated by Vice Gov. Fernando to address the issue of the recent flooding that devastated many parts of Bulacan particularly the coastal municipalities of Calumpit and Hagonoy. The executive session was held at a multi-purpose hall beside the Bustos dam which is continuously releasing excess water brought by recent rains.

Alvarado said that he and the Sanguniang Panglalawigan would inform President Benigno Aquino III about the said revelation and that this is rendering the proposed dam synchronization program of the national government useless and at the same time has unearthed a major factor in the severe flooding of low lying areas during typhoon season.

The governor said that due to the need of maintaining at least 100 meters of water elevation for Maynilad to operate business, gate operators of Ipo dam cannot do preemptive release during typhoon season. He added that the provincial government is proposing the construction of a new reservoir for Maynilad.

“We are shocked. We are not aware about this. Maynilad should have its own reservoir and should not directly use the Ipo dam as its main reservoir,” Alvarado said adding that this is one factor that always causes flooding to the low lying towns of Calumpit and Hagonoy, where the Angat river flows towards Manila bay.

Engr. Hermigildo Medrano, common purpose supervisor of MWSS, disclosed during the executive session that the other concessionaire of MWSS uses the La Mesa dam as its reservoir while Maynilad has been using Ipo dam as its own reservoir that’s why it is always being maintained to its maximum level of 99 meters. The spilling level of Ipo dam is 101 meters.

Medrano admitted that dam operators follow certain protocols in releasing waters and it is SOP (standard operating procedure) that they would only release water when the dam reached its spilling levels.

The governor said that Maynilad supplies 60 percent of the water needs of Metro Manila residents, by this, the water level at Ipo dam is maintained to its maximum level. As an effect, when typhoons or heavy rains come the dam always releases its excess water down to the low lying coastal municipalities, further aggravating the perennial back floods coming from Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.

Alvarado was also alarmed by the disclosure of Engr. Felix Robles, gate operator of Bustos dam, that the reason why they released 1,300 cubic meters per second of water at the height of Typhoon Pedring last September 27 is that because they fear that the Bustos dam, the longest rubber dam in Asia, would collapse.

“E puwede naman pa lang mag release ng paunti-unti, dahil noong September 26, 170 cms ang pinakawalan nila, 1,300 cms noong September 27 at 400 cms noong September 28. Ang nangyari, binigla nila ang pagpapawala kaya malaking parte ng Calumpit at Hagonoy ang biglang nalubog tuloy sa malalim na baha,” Alvarado said.

He also suggested to MWSS officials to fast track the installation of CCTV cameras at the spill gates of Angat, Ipo and Bustos dams as well as into the major rivers of Bulacan so that the command center of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office can monitor in real time the release of water from the dams and the rise of water in the major rivers of the province.

Board member Michael Fermin also sponsored a resolution seeking that the governor, representing the people of Bulacan, be given a seat at the National Water Resources Board—the agency that has jurisdiction over the water releases of the said dams-- because the province of Bulacan is host to the dams that supplies water to Metro manila and nearby provinces and that the people of Bulacan are also major stakeholders when it comes to the flooding caused by the release of excess water from the dams. ###

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