The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) head Rogelio Singson appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Isidro T. Ungab of the 3rd District of Davao City to account for the Php 351.71 billion budget the agency has set for a 15-year flood mitigation program, Php 54.6 billion of which is to be used in 2016.
According to Singson, the Php 54.6 billion has been allocated for 1,135 DPWH projects that involve the construction and maintenance of flood control structures and drainage systems including ones found along river basins and principal rivers.
Since the term of President Aquino, the DPWH has implemented 9,479 flood control and drainage projects beginning July 2010 until March 2015. These include dikes, revetment and river walls, waterways, drainage mains and mini dams.
The 15-year flood control program, according to Singson, uses a more holistic approach that will involve long-terms solutions.
"This is the approach that we are doing, and it involves our major rivers nationwide. Long term ang solution kaya lang medyo naiinip ang mga kababayan natin gusto nila overnight solution. Unfortunately, this does not happen that way. The interventions both structural and non-structural take a few years to implement. But what is important is that we have a master plan that guides us in addressing our water resources," said Singson.
"This is the approach that we are doing, and it involves our major rivers nationwide. Our citizens are getting impatient and want a quick fix but we are looking at a long-term solution. Unfortunately, this does not happen that way. The interventions both structural and non-structural take a few years to implement. But what is important is that we have a master plan that guides us in addressing our water resources."
"We have avoided the use of political boundaries in planning flood management. We felt the only way we can effectively plan is to use a river basin approach. So we adopted two key major policies in terms of our flood control program. We want to conserve water from upstream and by doing so, we were able to maximize its use for irrigation, domestic use and hydropower, in the process minimizing flooding downstream. We believe you have to address a river basin, the solution cannot be by political boundaries. It's a matter of addressing the flood problem in a holistic manner through an integrated water resource management," added Singson.
The DPWH water management approach is in line with the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) Project Noah, which means that in all of the 19 major rivers in the country people can determine how water will behave based on the amount of rainfall.
"The DOST has been able to install rain gauges and sensors so that if they can predict the strength of rain in the upstream, then they will be able to advise the communities on which of them will be flooded and how high their water levels will go. So that's already done, that's already available in communities so they can be given enough warning in terms of which communities will be flooded based on a projected rainfall," said Singson.
The detailed master plan of the DPWH allowed them to identify three major causes of flood in Metro Manila. These are, water coming from the Sierra Madre, drainage capacity constraints in key areas of Metro Manila and low lying communities around Manila Bay and Laguna Lake.
Construction is under way for 11 key program components to mitigate flooding in Metro Manila. Phase 1, which includes the Pasig-Marikina Channel Improvement Project, and Phase 2 have already been completed while Phase 3 will be finished by 2017.
Also still under construction are the Mandaluyong Main Drainage Project, Blumentritt Intercept Catchment Area and other high-impact flood control projects.