The flooding along España Avenue has been a perennial problem for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the most recent solution they came up with was to create a catchment area or reservoir to collect all the rainwater that comes down from Laong Laan, Retiro and Quezon City.

Unfortunately for the DPWH, the initial site has been rejected by the property owners.

The first proposed location for the catchment area was underneath the open field and the National Cultural Treasure inside the country’s oldest educational institution, the University of Santo Tomas (UST).

School administrators immediately rejected the idea citing the fact that the reservoir might cause the instability of old structures and their eventual collapse.

“Na-identify kasi namin yung flood prone areas, alam mo naman konting ulan lang, bumabaha na agad dahil lahat ng tubig nanggagaling mula sa Laong Laan, Retiro at Quezon City, diyan bumababa.  Madali sanang masolusyonan (ang pagbaha) kung gagawa tayo ng retarding basin…ganon ‘yung sina-suggest naming solusyon diyan sa UST. But obviously, they have other concerns. Baka magiba daw ‘yung old structures,” said Public Works Secretary Rogelio “Babes” Singson.

[We have identified the flood prone areas and everyone knows that it only takes a small amount of rain to cause floods there because of all the water coming from Laong Laan, Retiro and Quezon City goes there. The easy solution was to create a retarding basin; that’s what we were suggesting in UST but obviously they have other concerns. They’re wary about the collapse of old structures.]

UST has gotten some flak and a special mention from President Aquino for this decision. During his State of the Nation address, Pnoy made reference to a school that protested against the construction of a catchment area in their premises.

The DPWH is eyeing Blumentritt as the next possible site for the catchment area.

“Naghanap kami ng ibang solusyon, at yun na ang tinatawag naming Blumentritt catchment. In fairness, naghanap kami ng solusyon at hindi namin pinabayaan,” Singson said.

[We continued to look for other solutions and we have found one that we have now called Blumentritt catchment. In fairness, we continued to look for solutions and we never gave up.]

The cost to construct the Blumentritt reservoir is Php 439 million and it will be finished by March or April 2016. It will be 3.3 kilometers long, two meters deep and will stretch all the way to Tondo draining all floodwaters from Quezon City and Sampaloc towards Manila Bay.

Established in 1611, UST owns historical landmarks within its premises that have been declared National Cultural Treasures in 2010. These are the UST open field, the Main Building, Central Seminary and the Arch of the Centuries.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer