Valenzuela City Mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian appeals to the authorities to reconsider constructing the cancelled Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan (VOM) Flood Control Project, saying, without its implementation, the flood control efforts of the city will be useless and could only worsen the situation of the neighboring areas.
Valenzuela City has several existing flood control infrastructures to ease up flooding, such as pumping stations and flood gates, but these are not enough that is why the city hired Irrigation/Flood Control Expert, Dr. Rafael Apostol to help design its own. “But if we implement our own flood control project, kapag may baha, itatapon lang namin ang tubig sa mga kalapit na lugar, sila naman ang kawawa. Hindi naman iyon tama, kaya kailangan ng multi-city approach sa pagtugon sa problema sa baha and that is the VOM project.” (Whenever there is flooding, we will just pump out the water to the neighboring areas, they are the ones who will suffer. That is not fair, that is why we need a multi-city approach to address flooding issues and that is the VOM project.)”
VOM project is the phase 2 of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-funded CAMANAVA Mega Flood Control Project, which completion has been delayed for years. The remaining section, 1.7-kilometer long boulder dike in Dampalit, Malabon City is yet to be finished before the year ends.
CAMANAVA, which stands for Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela, but Mayor WIN cleared that “Valenzuela City is not included in the more than 4-billion peso project and the phase 2 was cancelled due to lack of funding and its resurrection is being opposed by some authorities due to the perceived ineffectuality of the first phase.”
The 18.50 square-kilometer phase 1 has earned the ire of Malabon City, with its officials claiming that several changes on the original plan were made without consultation. In Valenzuela, residents fear that the water that it releases would stream down to the city.
The 21square-kilometer VOM project would have involved construction of pumping stations, independent flood gates, draining mains, river improvement works and improvement of river channels. Mayor WIN believes that VOM must be constructed but should be re-studied thoroughly in terms of the design to learn from what have been the flaws of phase 1.
Dr. Apostol said that the government should conduct the necessary feasibility studies for the project instead of the foreign financier and its contractor. “That way, the project would be more effective,” he stressed.
About 15 percent of Valenzuela City, specifically, the low-lying areas in the first district always go through flooding during heavy downpour. “Valenzuelanos have long been waiting for an effective solution to the flooding and we want it now,” Mayor WIN said.
It can be recalled in history that the government has been planning for an effective flood control project for Metro Manila since November of 1942. Several projects have been undertaken but nothing has truly and effectively solved the situation. It is due to the continuous change in the topography of the area and the unsolvable problem of high tide surges of the Manila Bay. CAMANAVA has undergone a continual land subsidence at a significant rate, partly due to excessive ground water extraction in the past. The feasibility study of the CAMANA and VOM Flood Control Projects was done from 1988 to 1990. “A revised feasibility study must be done for VOM,” Mayor WIN added.
An expert from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) earlier said that the 21 square kilometers flood-prone VOM areas will continue to suffer knee- to chest-high floods during simultaneous occurrence of high tides and strong rains until such time that flood control facilities are constructed.
Mayor WIN’s appeal was made during a forum with a group of columnists who joined the Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel. “Kapag naiwan kami sa Valenzuela, Obando at Meycuauyan, magiging catch basin lamang kami ng tubig na ire-release ng CAMANA[VA] Flood Control Project. (Once Valenzuela, Obando and Meycuauyan was left out, we might become a mere catch basin of the water released from the CAMANA[VA] Flood Control Project.)” Mayor WIN reiterated.