Malolos addresses flooding through P170-M Dutch-inspired flood control project

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CITY OF MALOLOS—The city government of Malolos addresses the city’s decades of perennial flooding through a P170 million worth long-time dream flood control project designed by water and flood experts from the Dutch government.

Mayor Christian Natividad said here on Friday that they are now waiting for the completion middle of this year of the ongoing Detailed Engineering Design (DED) of the project being conducted by representatives and experts from the Netherlands for the actual works to begin.

The anti-flooding structure is the first of its kind grant project by the Dutch government in the country which is a nature-based solution flood mitigation design. The grant project worth P12 million covers the feasibility study and the DED.

The P170 million funds from the city government will be used for the actual works.

Nature-based solutions

The nature-based solutions expertise of the Dutch government, Dutch Ambassador to the Philippines Marielle Geraedts said, is a flood control process and at the same time helps prevent storm surge through the use of natural resources available in the area that is most applicable and suited. 

Geraedts said the coastal villages of Pamarawan, Panasahan and Bagna which were the considered catch basin of floods in the city will be the beneficiary of the project. In these areas, nature-based solutions would mean sediment trapping as the most applicable process, says Franco Rebarter, Senior Policy Officer at the Dutch Embassy in the Philippines. Sediments coming from Manila Bay and other river tributaries, he said, will be trapped using bamboo and mangroves, he told NEWS CORE in an interview more than three weeks ago.

Because nature-based solutions use available materials, she said, it does not leave a big impact on biodiversity unlike cemented walls or breakwaters.

The Dutch Ambassador who spoke as guest of honor and speaker in the Dangal ng Bulacan Foundation meeting held at Hiyas ng Bulacan Convention Center here on March 9 said through the project grant and the initiatives, efforts and funding of the city government of Malolos,  the flooding in the coastal areas of Bulacan will be lessened including the destructive effect of storm surges through sustainable management and use of natural features inherent to the coastal areas of the city the Netherlands way.

Natividad told NEWS CORE that the project is a long dream flood mitigation approach and system people in the coastal areas of Bulacan like the City of Malolos are waiting to be realized. The realization of the dream is made more significant and deemed highly effective because of the grant and expertise of the Dutch government water management and flood control agencies. According to the mayor, the Malolos nature-based flood control project will later serve as a model flood-control project not only in Bulacan and Central Luzon but also in the whole country.  

According to Rebarter, the feasibility study has just been completed last year and the DED will be done in a few months. From there, he said, the city government will proceed with the construction of nature-based solution anti-flooding structures. “The target completion of the DED is by the middle of this year. After that, it will be submitted to the local government of Malolos for actual realization,” he said.

Geraedts recognized the initiative of Natividad including former Hagonoy town Mayor Angel Cruz who used to live in Netherlands and a memorandum of agreement with the Alyansa ng mga Baybaying Bayan ng Bulacan at Pampanga in seeking the help of the Dutch government to put an end to the decades of flooding problem in the coastal areas of Bulacan–City of Malolos, which is BUlacan’s capital including Hagonoy, Paombong, Bulakan and Obando towns.

“Flooding in Bulacan could just be a thing of the past,” she said during the March 9 meeting which gave high hopes and inspiration to Bulakenyos then represented by Vice Gov. Alexis Castro.

Geraedts said there had been comprehensive assessments made on the sites. She added that they have already Informed the people in the three coastal barangays and have gathered the sentiments of the community. 

Pamarawan barangay captain Belticesar Bartolome told NEWS CORE that the more than 6,000 people in their island barangay can now look forward to no longer experiencing flooding despite living in the coastal areas.

“If we in the coastal and island barangays will be dry, more so than those in the land barangays and that is a milestone for all Bulakenyos,” he said.

The Ambassador said the Malolos flood control project was in line with the national government’s 2019 programs and works to rehabilitate Manila Bay through inputs from Dutch experts by creating a comprehensive and sustainable master plan for the Manila Bay and the immediate coastal zones. 

“This contains frameworks  backed by scientific research from multi consultation that details on how to coordinate the redevelopment of the bay and the possibilities and potentials, limitations, precautionary measures, and standards necessary, guidelines and recommendations on how private investor’s investment should contribute financially, technically and structurally to the agreed development goals and much more for an Inclusive growth as an integral, sustainable plan that would benefit the more than 25 million inhabitants around the bay. The master plan is recognized by the country and is being used for relevant purposes by different Philippine government institutions,” the Ambassador also said in her speech. 

Water as Netherlands expertise

The Ambassador also said that water management, water supply and water protection is one of their country’s expertise.

She said that Netherlands and Bulacan geographically have a lot of things in common because people living in the Netherlands are surrounded by water in the Delta region much like the south-western hub of Bulacan.

“Because of these features, Dutch people suffered the consequences of flooding for centuries as a result, we have become an expert in keeping the water out and making the most of topography. Our long coastlines have somewhat become both a blessing and a curse. We can safely assume of the Netherlands assistance to the Philippines when it comes to these programs,” she said. 

Castro thanked the Ambassador and the Dutch government for its expertise and knowledge inputs to help address the perennial flooding in the province which has been there for decades now. 

Castro also thanked the Dangal ng Bulacan Foundation under the current leadership of Gladys Sta. Rita, former president of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) and founding chair, former Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Pena not only in promoting the rich culture and heritage of Bulacan but also for being a staunch partner of the provincial government in the strengthening the province economy and trade.

The Dangal ng Bulacan Foundation is an organization of all the Dangal ng Lipi awardees, (outstanding sons and daughters of Bulacan) from all endeavors and fields who joined together to help Bulacan further reach its biggest potentials in terms of economic investments and businesses, environmental protection and culture and heritage preservation. 

Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Teresa Lazaro from Bulakan town is also a member of the Dangal ng Bulacan Foundation.

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