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Government says it has three-pronged approach to address flooding

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People wade through a flooded street under heavy rains as they are evacuated from their homes in the village of Tumana, Marikina town, in suburban Manila on August 7, 2012, after torrential rains inundated most of the capital. Torrential rains brought the Philippines capital to a standstill on August 7 forcing at least 20,000 people to flee their homes as floodwaters covered half the sprawling city, authorities said. (MNS photo)

People wade through a flooded street under heavy rains as they are evacuated from their homes in the village of Tumana, Marikina town, in suburban Manila on August 7, 2012, after torrential rains inundated most of the capital. Torrential rains brought the Philippines capital to a standstill on August 7 forcing at least 20,000 people to flee their homes as floodwaters covered half the sprawling city, authorities said. (MNS photo)

The government said it is already working on a master plan containing a three-pronged approach to solve the annual flooding and traffic congestion problems particularly in Metro Manila in the long term.

In a press conference in Malacanang on Wednesday, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson said the master plan will cover a total area of over 4,000 square kilometers and involve about 17 million people.

Among the areas covered will be Metro Manila, parts of Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon, and the whole catchment basin of Laguna Lake, Singson said.

For the first time after years of neglect, the Aquino administration adopted a master plan for flood control which is already embedded in the NEDA program, he said.

The plan will involve the removal of 20,000 informal settlers living along waterways, drainage system improvement and upgrading of pumping stations especially in Metro Manila, the official said.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and National Housing Authority (NHA) have already identified eight major waterways that need to be cleared and fund is now available to carry out the project.

“‘Pinag-usapan ito kahapon with President Aquino, at may timetable na, may schedule na sila Secretary Manuel Roxas to implement dahil ang funding is already there. So the funding is not an issue. We just need time to be able to implement all of these major projects that we are undertaking,” he said.

Singson said there must be an aggressive clean up drive for Metro Manila’s waterways because they were so blocked that waters coming from Sierra Madre can’t go down with ease to Manila Bay and Pasig River.

The MMDA said it started cleaning esteros and waterways last May but hasn’t penetrated 55 percent of blocked areas due to the presence of informal settlers.

To upgrade the drainage systems based on the master plan, construction works are ongoing in Metro Manila, the MMDA said.

There are 26 drainage systems being upgraded in the City of Manila, 13 in Quezon City, and two in EDSA. Constructions are also ongoing in Pasay City and Paranaque City, he noted.

According to Singson, the biggest project of the DPWH is the construction of the Blumentritt box culvert or water tunnel to address metro flooding. The Blumentritt culvert will run from Dapitan to Tondo in Manila with a span of 2.6 kilometers.

The box culvert has a width of 3.6 meters and height of 2.7 meter, Singson said. But since the drainage system will be 2.6 kilometers long, he appealed to the public to be patient before everyone could feel its effect. It will take the DPWH 12 months to construct, he said.

The improvement of pumping stations will be managed by the MMDA and it already has the money to upgrade 12 major pumping stations in Metro Manila, Singson said.

Singson further said that there is also non-infrastructure or non-structural measures to be implemented to address flooding, he said. Among these include Project NOAH that involve resettlement, flood drills, and an enhanced information system.

Because Project NOAH was already able to do a flood modeling system, it could predict flooding in Pasig and Marikina Rivers, the official said.

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