In light of the recent destruction caused by Typhoon Yolanda and the overwhelming increase in the incidence of flooding in the country, T.I. Vasquez Architects and Planners, Inc. (TVAP) has come up with four solutions to solve this problem. Now on its 20th year, TVAP was asked by the Metropolitan Manila Sewerage System (MWSS) to suggest possible ways to address severe flooding in Metro Manila. This email contains some of their suggestions.
I would like to suggest that you feature these suggestions in your column to encourage greater awareness on the issue and to encourage an intelligent debate to get more professionals involved in ending this problem once and for all.
Should you have any questions or will be using the content of this email, please contact me at 09178606795. Thank you for your time!
Four Against One
Four proposals to end Metro Manila flooding
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the “habagat” alone that hit the country last August caused flooding in some 415 areas all over Luzon and left at least 8 people dead. Tropical storm Maring, on the other hand, left 518 areas in 78 municipalities and cities in Regions 1, 3, 4, and the National Capital Region (NCR) flooded. This resulted in the displacement of 1,060,094 Filipinos.
Needless to say, the flooding in our country has now gone from bad to worse.
Climate change and its subsequent effect on the country has already been the subject of much debate since the 1960s. This means that the floods that have been wreaking much damage to the country could have been prevented had the government prepared for such an eventuality. Sadly, even with these predictions coming true left and right, the government has yet to enact a long-term solutions to the problem of flooding.
But what can be done? According to Arch. Topy Vasquez of T.I. Vasquez Architects and Planners, Inc, “to solve a mega problem, we need a mega project.”
Tapped by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Arch. Vasquez and his colleagues came up with not only one but four possible solutions to end flooding in the country once and for all.
He noted that Filipinos need not reinvent the wheels for this endeavor, citing Japan’s Nayotoram flood project and Malaysia’s smart tunnel.
“With best practices already existing in nearby countries, the only thing the government needs to do is adapt this to the needs of the country,” he said.
Metro Manila tunnel
The firm’s first proposal is to dig deep below Metro Manila’s foundation using a tunnel-boring machine (TBM) that will connect the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). Doing so would not only ease the traffic congestion in the city but will also connect the eastern and western parts of Metro Manila. The beauty of this proposal is that at times of severe rainfall, the tunnel will be closed and will act instead as a water-staging area. The retained water will then be pumped out into Manila Bay. (see attached photo)
Arch. Vasquez admitted that the project would end up costing the country billions. However, he stated that this is a small price to pay when the losses of opportunity due to flooding are considered.
“Each year, we spend a monumental amount of money on flood projects that are not guaranteed to work. These projects also proved to be very inconvenient due to the traffic congestion they cause during construction. Our tunnel proposal will not end up doing that because we simply put the activity underground, away from the traffic,” he said.
Laguna de Bay ring road
With Singapore, the New Jersey water reservoir, and the Los Angeles Arrow Head in mind; Arch. Vasquez’s second proposal is to create a ring road around Laguna de Bay. Bridges cutting through the lake and connecting to the islands at its middle will create shortcuts. This ring road will then be elevated to hold the water in during times of severe rainfall. Floodgates will also be installed to ensure that the connecting bodies of water will not overflow.
“The soil collected while digging into the lake will be used to reclaim the areas outside of the lake and the ring road. The proceeds from the development of this area will be used to finance this ring road project,” he explained.
“We can even put the government center in the middle of the lake. I strongly believe that we can remake Laguna de Bay into Manila’s Future City,” he added.
Use Caliraya Lake
In the interest of providing solutions immediately, Arch. Vasquez and his firm turned to the Caliraya Lake spillway for their third proposal.
The idea they came up with is simple: use the machine installed in the Caliraya Lake spillway designed to push water from Caliraya to Laguna de Bay to reverse the flow of water. This way, the water flow may now be reversed from Laguna de Bay to the Caliraya Lake should the water level in the former threaten to overflow.
“Arch. I.M. Pei puts it this way: ‘The simpler the solution, the more powerful it is.’ The Caliraya Lake is so close to the Pacific Ocean. It makes a lot of sense to dump Laguna de Bay’s excess water into another body of water. It’s very cheap and doable when explored,” he said.
Right off the bat
The need to act fast to solve the problem of flooding propelled the firm to come up with its best immediate solution: install submersible pumps all around the city to push water out faster into the surrounding creeks, rivers, and lakes.
“It worked in Pasig, so why should we not implement this all around the Metro?” Arch. Vasquez asked. “A little push is all we need.”
Arch. Vasquez’s team at T.I. Vasquez Architects and Planners, Inc. have offered four solutions—ranging from the least to the most costly—pro-bono and all at one go, recognizing that no time must be wasted in addressing the issue of flooding. But its leader, while full of ideas, is realistic when it comes to the situation at hand.
“We can only propose and offer our suggestions in service of the country. Unless the government shows the proper political will to enact a long-term solution to address floods, we will be stuck with costly band-aid solutions,” he concluded.
Liane Nerina D. Reyes