Gov. Fernando eyes declaration of state of calamity

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Egay, habagat submerges 17 Bulacan towns, initial agri damages at P73-M

CITY OF MALOLOS— Gov. Daniel Fernando eyes placing Bulacan under state of calamity as 17 out of 24 towns and cities are submerged in up to 6 ft. flood water due to rains brought by typhoon Egay and southwest monsoon  with about 17,000 residents evacuated while damages to agriculture is initially placed at P73-million.

Angat Dam elevation rose to 14 meters high and Ipo and Bustos dams which spilling levels were both breached continue to release waters as of Sunday.

Bulacan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) data on Sunday said more than P24.5-million worth of 3,686 hectares of rice of 2,707 farmers; P39 million worth of 156 vegetable plantations of 506 farmers; more than P48,000 worth of 1.20 hectares of 4 farmers and more than P9 million worth of 235 hectares of fishery farms of 96 farmers were damaged.

As of Sunday, swollen Calumpit, Hagonoy and Paombong rivers, the catch basin of flood waters bound for Manila Bay have started to further worsen as back-flooding of   flood waters from Pampanga and Nueva Ecija has started, Bulacan PDRRMO chief Manuel Lukban Jr., said.

“The Saturday warning alert in the Pampanga River Basin is now in critical alert. Back-flooding has already started,” Lukban told NEWS CORE on phone. He said that flood water is expected to hit the low lying areas of Calumpit 2-3 days from now.

Twenty six out of twenty nine villages in Calumpit had been in up to 5 ft. flood waters since July 27 because of incessant rains, high tide and dam releases. Other than Calumpit, almost all the 23 other towns and cities in Bulacan were affected by up to 6 ft. flood waters except for the higher grounds and uphill mountainous towns of Dona Remedios Trinidad and City of San Jose del Monte.

On Sunday, Lukban said, close to 15,000 residents from more than 4,000 families have remained in evacuation centers because of floods.

Lukban said, the stretch of Angat River from Norzagaray to Angat, Bustos, San Rafael, Baliwag, Plaridel, Pulilan, Calumpit, Hagonoy and Paombong had swollen following the release of the dams, the strong rains and the increasing level of daily morning high tide which caused them to evacuate them. He said however that before the river had swollen, they had already conducted pre-emptive evacuations. 

Ipo Dam, located at the lower portion of Angat Dam at 101.30 meters elevation 11:00 am on July 27 surpassed its spilling level of 101.00 meters and started its discharge of waters with 76.11 cubic meter per second (cms). At 101.37 meters elevation at 4:00 pm, it released 112.33 cms.

Bustos Dam on that day, located in Bustos town which catches the releases of the upper dams Angat and Ipo dams at 17.46 meters, more than its 17.30 meters spilling level released a sudden 737 cms volume of water for five hours from 2pm to 7pm. At 12:30 pm it was only releasing 240 cms from releases of 52 cms at 6:00 and 11:00 am.

National Irrigation Administration (NIA) officials which manages the Bustos dam started the releases on July 23 at 39 cms minimal discharged when the elevation reached 17.31 meters.

Gov. Fernando scolds NIA over 700 cms Bustos dam release

On Saturday, Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando scolds National Irrigation Administration (NIA) officials over such sudden high volume of discharges.

Fernando in a text message replied to NEWS CORE on Friday (night) while in an out of the country official duty said he called up and questioned NIA officials over again a sudden high volume of discharges of water.

Fernando said the releases could have started in a partial volume and not a one given time high volume. “I called them up with my tone up that’s why they started to reduce the volume of spill, Why do they need to release such a huge volume at one given time when they can make it in just a gradual manner. That further causes flooding in the low lying areas,” the governor said.

Josephine Salazar, NIA Region 3 director and also NIA concurrent deputy administrator told NEWS CORE in text messages on Saturday said their engineers who are in-charge in the releases  explained to the governor that Bustos Dam is not a reservoir where water can be hold and that they need to make a spill because upper Ipo Dam has earlier released waters and there were heavy downpours.

She said that Bustos dam is only a run-off type dam and needs to make discharges when upper Ipo and Angat dam releases waters. She said, they cannot control the volume of discharges because they only discharge based on the inflow from the said two dams including the heavy downpour.

Ipo Dam with 101.00 meters spilling level also started to make 49.83 cms releases on July 27 when it reached 101. 16 meters above sea level (masl). Ipo Dam at 101.06 masl on Saturday discharges 68.80 cms.

Fernando expressed concern that his request to NIA to replace all its six rubber gates of Bustos Dam after one of them was found defective in June 2020 continues to take time today.

Fernando who called NIA officials, National Power Corporation, National Water Resources Board (NWRB) and Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) officials in a meeting following the onslaught of the dam releases because of typhoon Karding September last year said that on Monday, he will attend a congressional committee hearing about the filed bills on the perennial flood problems and concerns of Bulacan.

Also on Sunday, Fernando reiterates to the residents that only the said 10 towns along the stretch of the Angat River are affected by the dam releases.

Lukban clarifies that the floods in Guiguinto town which Poblacion area reached 3-6 ft. flood waters until Saturday was not caused by dam releases. Adjacent barangays Malis and Ilang-ilang are up to 5 ft. flood waters. Small silted rivers and creeks, high tide and strong rains caused the 6 ft. flood water in the town, Lukban said.

But, according to Guiguinto Mayor Agatha Cruz said the unprecedented high flood waters in the town was due to heavy and incessant rains, high tide and that Poblacion area is considered a coastal area. She said with their already set but still in need of funds dredging, river wall, mini pumping stations and upgrading of roads, the flooding problems in the town could be resolved. “We are working on a plan together with UP on upgrading of drainage systems especially in critical areas. Initial estimates pegged the cost to be massive. We are also studying the option of identifying areas to be no build zones and be dedicated to catch basin areas,” she told NEWS CORE. 

As of Sunday 11:00 am, Ipo Dam at 101.02 meters elevation continues to discharge waters at 47 cms while Bustos dam at 16.45 with now 17.36 meters soiling level and 15.00 meters critical level discharges 315 cms.

Angat dam is now at 194.00 meters above sea level (masl) against its 210.00 normal high water elevation.

The high tide at 7 am on Sunday was 1.27 meters or 4.17 ft.

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