Random Thoughts

Causes of flooding in Dagupan
By Leonardo Micua


FOR those who do not know it yet, the Sinocalan River, which is the source of bane for Dagupan every rainy season, is a body of water whose fountainhead can be found at Mt. Ampucao in Tuba, Benguet.

Water springing out from the fountain head flows to Tagamusing River in Binalonan, the Mitura and San Jose rivers in Urdaneta as well as the Sinocalan River in Sta. Barbara, Marusay River in Calasiao, Pantal River and eventually to Calmay River in Dagupan City till it empties in the Lingayen Gulf.

Decades of deforestation and illegal mining caused the denudation of the once verdant virgin forest around Mt. Ampucao. During rains, sediments reduced to silt settle into the watershed area and washed downstream by rampaging water and left to settle in the Lingayen Gulf.

Napocor insists that water released by the San Roque Dam from its spillway, including those thrown out by turbines of the dam during power generation does not flow to the Sinocalan River as there is no tributary connecting Agno to Sinocalan.

Thus, Napocor maintains as it already maintained a decade ago that it has nothing to do with the floods in Sta. Barbara, Calasiao and Dagupan, whenever the spillway gates of the San Roque Dam are opened.

The Agno River is separately drawing its water from its fountainhead at Mt. Data Plateau in Mt. Province.

It is true that the National Irrigation Administration maintains a weir that siphons some water from the Agno River which it uses to irrigate the farms in Urdaneta, Villasis, Sta. Barbara and Manaoag but NIA claims this is always tightly sealed during the rainy season since there is no need to supply water to the rice fields due to the abundant rains pouring from above.

We were told that not only Sinocalan River is draining water into Dagupan. Remember that Dagupan is crisscrossed by seven mighty rivers, some of which draw water from the Cayanga River, an extension of the Aloragat River, whose water traces its roots from the Bued River flowing from Baguio City.

There is also water from the Ingalera River from San Carlos City draining into Calmay River, we were told.

So, Dagupan is being fed by a confluence of water coming from many directions, being the catch basin of all run off water in Pangasinan.

The brownish water flowing into Dagupan is a strong indication that the already balding mountainsides were already eroded in the Ampucao side.

There was a claim yet to be proven that Dagupan is one meter below sea level. During the 1990 earthquake, Dagupan was believed to have sunk by about a meter due to the natural factor called liquefaction.

Then because of global warming that melted the ice in the Arctic Region of the globe, which is now irreversible, the sea level rose by about a meter, posing threat to many coastal areas in the Philippine archipelago, the city of Dagupan included.

This makes Dagupan very much vulnerable to high tide, which is a natural occurrence daily in villages that are near rivers.

Remember that water seeks its own level. Every rise of tide, residents notice the water from the river backflow through drainage canals as the level of water in the river is now obviously higher than the streets, commercial areas as well as settlement areas.

So there you are. The flooding is expected to continue unless we do something and even more if we just talk and talk and fence-sit without any action being taken to ease the problem.

SOLUTIONS — Only an engineering solution can do the trick. They did it in the lowland countries of Holland, Denmark and Belgium, all rich countries that have the means to build mega anti-flood infrastructures, things which the Philippines as a country can not afford to build even in the long term.

A proposal of Councilor Jigs Seen for the construction of an infrastructure that will redirect the flow of water from Sta. Barbara to the Lucao river in Dagupan, skirting the now narrow Pantal River, is a possible remedy to address the problem of flooding but it costs millions of pesos and four years to build, granting it will be included among the Build, Build, Build projects of the current administration.

That project needs the support not of only local officials of Pangasinan but also by all our congressmen.

All-out dredging is a possible short-term solution but it should be done using the holistic approach and with plenty of resources in order to achieve maximum result. This means that the dredging should not only be confined in the lower stream of the river but also simultaneously in the upstream.

The ongoing dredging of the DPWH, and supported by the city government using its long backhoe mounted on a barge, on a portion of the Calmay River near Pantal Guibang appears not succeeding because of the principle that if you remove the silt here, the bigger volume of silt stored upstream comes cascading down due to gravity.

At the same time, installation of check gates as suggested by City Engineer Virginia Rosario must be funded and done immediately if the city is really dead serious in minimizing the flood.

For his part, Congressman Toff De Venecia has began sourcing funds to finance the all out dredging of rivers in Dagupan and at the same time discussing the need to send more dredging machines to the city to do the dredging with Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar which the city council already sought.

At the same time, Toff’s father, former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., is tapping his network in foreign governments for possible donation of dredging machines that can save Dagupan from floods

Of course, Toff will have to seek stronger dikes on both sides of the Sinocalan, Marusay and Pantal rivers but this will have to be done with the help of his third district counterpart, Congresswoman Rosemary Baby Arenas.

Saving the city from flood needs the support of everybody. All can contribute to the overall goal by exercising caution and diligence in disposing their garbage to make sure these do not clog drainage canals.

Other than criticizing Mayor Belen, why not extend her a helping hand so that a final solution to the recurring flood could be found.

What about the backfilling of fishponds?

We heard PENRO Ray Gayo, when asked by ABS CBN whether the fishponds are hindering the flow of floodwaters to the sea, as saying that the backfilling of fishponds is allowed for as long as those backfilling their private properties are not blocking the waterways nor reclaiming parts of rivers.

It was the Environmental Management Bureau, an agency of the DENR, that issued the Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECCS) with certain conditions to property owners before they can backfill their properties – they secure the nod of the Sangguniang Panlungsod by way of an ordinance allowing them to convert their properties from agricultural to commercial or residential, and get a zoning clearance from the city’s zoning office.

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