Implementation of Balincaguing River watershed project sought

AGNO— The Agno Concerned Citizens For Sustainable Development, Inc. (ACCESS) wants provincial government to implement the Balincaguing River Watershed Project and the declaration of Balincaguing Rivera as an eco-tourism zone.

Lydia Colobong-Orilla, vice president of ACCESS in- charge of education/advocacy, wrote to to Vice Gov. Jose Ferdinand Calimlim Jr., presiding officer of the provincial board, last Wednesday March 15, to remind the provincial government about its commitment to the project.

“By this you will be leaving the environment in a clean, healthy and sustainable status as mandated by the laws of the land and you will be remembered as a vanguard for the future generations,” she wrote.

Its upstream waters come from Sual and Labrador and drains down thru the towns of Mabini, Burgos and all the way to Agno town exiting at the Umbrella Rocks. It has tributaries in the towns of Dasol and Infanta.

Orilla said the objective is not only of the river but the whole watershed, to prevent its further destruction from man-made and natural causes like erosion, eutrophication and siltation. “This is an appeal for the generations yet unborn,” she said.

As a Class B river, Balincaguing River’s pristine waters can be an alternative source of water after proper treatment for domestic use, i.e., swimming, boating, for eco-tourism purposes.

“It is longer than Loboc River, only that its potential for ecotourism is not appreciated by politicians,” she told The PUNCH as she pointed out that there are endemic plants along the river banks and endemic caves, too.

Orilla said she wrote Calimlim because in her meeting with Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez dialogue on Feb. 3 in Mabini town, Lopez gave the go-signal and directed Regional Director Paquito Moreno to implement the Balincaguing River Watershed Project “as a solution to the problem on the negative impacts of illegal mining and quarrying” in this western part of the province.

She said structures like floating cages continue to proliferate along Agno town portion.

Balincaguing River has a stretch of 60 kilometers (km) and a drainage area of 406 sq. kms. Of the total area, 17,178 hectares are alienable and disposable lands and 22, 022 hectares are classified as forestland/timber land based on the land classification map of 1927. (Tita Roces)