MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan: Hydro-engineers of Angat and Ipo dams have released over a thousand cubic meters per second of water from their reservoirs despite the earlier request of Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado to give flood-stricken residents of Calumpit and Hagonoy some “elbow room” before discharging waters.
The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) headed by Liz Mungcal reported that the number of flooded villages in Calumpit had climbed from 11 to 13 as of 3 p.m. Saturday while six villages in Hagonoy were being inundated under one to three feet of water.
As of Saturday afternoon, the number of affected families had risen to 30,523 or 152,615 individuals.
Mungcal said 1,429 families or 6,208 persons are now temporarily sheltered in five evacuation centers.
The surging backfloods prompted Alvarado to call on officials of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) not to release big volume of waters from their dams because it will aggravate the flooding in Calumpit and Hagonoy.
However, despite the governor’s plea, Angat dam released 900 cms of water while Bustos dam released 400 cms of water that snakes through the already swollen Angat River, thus aggravating the still rising backfloods in Calumpit and Hagonoy.
“This is indeed mind boggling. I can’t understand why they continue to release waters despite the fact that of the miserable situation of flood-stricken residents in Calumpit and Hagonoy are all over the news,” Alvarado said.
The governor reported the release of waters from the two big dams to Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr., a native of Pulilan which is also affected by the backfloods.
Alvarado said the Executive Secretary will talk to officials of Napocor and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to consider the people of Calumpit, Hagonoy and parts of Pulilan.
In order to address the perennial back flooding dilemma in the coastal towns of Calumpit and Hagonoy, Alvarado urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to bring back the original water carrying capacity of the Labangan flood control channel of seven meters which, he said, has lost its holding capability by at least two meters more than two decades ago.
The governor also said that regular dredging of major rivers in other parts of Central Luzon should be revived because most of the waterways where flood waters from the eastern part of Luzon flows through are now heavily silted.
“If the Labangan Channel will be restored to its original water holding capacity, it will complement the flood control capability of the Pampanga Delta project. It is also high time to dredge not only the Labangan channel but other major rivers as well so that backfloods will flow to these flood control channels and thus prevent the rivers from overflowing towards low-lying villages in Calumpit and Hagonoy,” the governor explained.
Last Friday morning, despite sunny weather, several villages in Calumpit were once again submerged by floods coming from Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.
On Saturday morning, villages in nearby Hagonoy and Pulilan town were also inundated by the backfloods just like what happened when typhoon Lando brought heavy rains.
“It’s becoming a vicious cycle that is constantly wreaking havoc to the people of Calumpit, Hagonoy and other low-lying areas that have become the perennial catch basin of the back floods. It is very saddening to see our people suffering from floods especially during Christmas time,” he said.
The governor said that before Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1995, the DPWH had two dredgers that regularly dredged the Angat and Pampanga river systems.
But when the volcano erupted, the Mt. Pinatubo Commission took the dredgers to save the regional capital of San Fernando, Pampanga.
Alvarado said that since then, no dredging has been done in the said river systems, including the Labangan channel.
“The City of San Fernando has already been saved from massive flooding but for a long time no dredging has been done along the other major river systems and waterways in Bulacan and Pampanga. I am suggesting that the DPWH restore its dredging operations now to mitigate the effects of the perennial flooding in the catch-basin towns of Calumpit and Hagonoy,” he added.