Justice, Peace and Care of Creation

A ministry of the Dominican Province of the Philippines based in the Catholic diocese of Kalookan, Metro Manila, Philippines.

11 December 2005

Issue of Megaflood Control in Kamanava Area: Letter of Concern

Flooding is one of the major problems of the area of Kalookan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela. To address this problem, the Philippine government initiated a project called megaflood control with funds mainly coming from Japan. However, geologists from the University of the Philippines have discovered flaws in its structural design. If constructed under the current plan with these flaws, it is feasible that the protection of the area from flooding may be severely undermined. JPCC shares the concerns of the scientists for the welfare of the people and thus will send a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways. The following is the full text of the letter:

12 December 2005

Hon. Hermogenes Ebdane
Secretary Department of Public Works and Highways, Manila

Attention: Asst. Director Gil Reyes
Bureau of Design

Dear Secretary Ebdane: The undersigned would like to bring to your attention the hearings held at the House of Representatives regarding the clamor of the residents in cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela for the thorough review of the on-going flood control project in their area known as the Kamanava Area Flood Control and Drainage System Improvement Project. We are quiet concerned that no one from the central office, specifically from the office of the Bureau of Design, participated during the hearings.

Although the congressional inquiry is due to be resolved soon, allow us to communicate to you our reservations on the project. Based on the study conducted by the University of the Philippines –National Institute of Geological Sciences {UP-NIGS} on flooding in the North Manila Bay Area, we regret that the following factors were not considered when the flood control project was being designed:

· While land subsidence was recognized in the plan, it only assumes a few millimeters of subsidence per year from 1990 to the next few ten of years. Changes in flood elevations due to high tide, with no rainfall, indicate subsidence rates exceeding 10cm/year in several locations in the project area since 1991;

· In planning the structures that will be built, it was assumed that there is an equal rate of subsidence across the project area when such is not the case;

· Elevation of tides during storms and generation of storm waves were not considered in the design. Tides can be elevated by more than 80% during storms. In addition, storm waves that can be generated in Manila Bay can exceed 3 meters. The waves and elevated tides can easily overtop the polder dikes whose designed elevation is only at 2.43 meters above mean sea level.

Furthermore, prolonged elevated tides during storms may prevent the pumping of floodwaters;
At this juncture, please be reminded that in the New Orleans experience in the United States, it was the storm surges which caused the devastation. It is worthy to point out that not even the massive concrete dike was able to protect the people. Worst, it made them complacent which aggravated damage and death that be fell the people of New Orleans

The project lacks precise topographic information necessary in deciding the elevation of flood control structures to be emplaced. The project’s topographic map datum is based on the 1970 to 1988 tide data, which was not corrected for subsidence. From 1970 to 1988, subsidence of at least 25 cm is indicated by the South Harbor tide gage data. Placement of pumps and the height of the river dikes require precise elevations referenced to mean sea level and predicted tide levels during storms;

· The strength of the proposed structures, specifically the polder and regulation dikes, which will be constructed using only compacted earth, is highly doubtful;

· The regulation ponds will not be of much help in abetting floods. Water that can be safely contained by the ponds is only 102,050 cu. Meters. This can be pumped out by a 6.24 m3/s pump, in only 4 ½ hours, however, being in a highly populated area, this volume, if released suddenly, can lead to deaths and damage of properties. Ms. Carla Bartolo asserted that the ponds are not deep enough to cause harm. This is a very misleading statement. The volume of the water is the issue here since we are talking of a very big area where the water will be stored. It must also be stressed that there are four ponds which will be constructed and they are located side by side to each other right in the middle of business and residential areas. These are serious points to consider and, up to this day, the office of Ms. Bartolo as well as the consultants on the project have failed to sufficiently address these issues. They have repeatedly alleged that the studies were conducted prior to project design. The location, size and shape of the regulation ponds are constantly being revised. The plan being implemented situates the regulation ponds in the middle of a populated area, and will displace established industries. The Japanese consultants as well as the DPWH claim that the regulation ponds will be located in an open space, largely composed of fishponds. An ocular inspection of the area where the regulation ponds will be constructed {there are 4 of them} will show that they are business establishments and residential areas – a far cry from what they call “open space”. As explained by DPWH, inclusion of regulation ponds is for purely economic reasons. However, the regulation ponds will lead to displacement of industries and put communities in harm’s way as relocation is only for those residents living where the ponds will be constructed.

We would like to make it clear that we are not against the project. What we want to reconsider are the regulation ponds and the polder dikes for the reasons stated above. In the original design, there were ONLY pumps and no regulation ponds. The inclusion of the ponds came in later when your office realized that the funds were not enough for the project. If you will recognize the UP study and scrap the polder dike, there will be more than enough funds to purchase the pumps since savings will be generated from the construction of the polder dike as well as the relocation of the families in the areas where the dikes and the ponds will be constructed.

We urgently appeal to your good office. Please direct your staff to review the design of the entire project and take into consideration the findings of the UP-NIGS and the welfare of the CAMANAVA residents. This is a loan and it will be paid by Filipinos, where the majority are already suffering from abject poverty. We treasure each and every cent that will be made available to us. Last August 2004 when barely 20% of the project had been completed a part of the polder dike had already collapsed. There are so many lessons to learn from the Louisiana experience. As if that was not enough, we were again warned when right here, at Calapan, Mindoro, the earth dike also collapsed. How we wish your Bureau of Design people were there in Congress to witness the UP presentation. Very vivid in our minds was how dikes prevent the flow of water back to sea after heavy rains. It is not too late to review the project again. It is not too late to listen to the findings of the UP scientists. It is not too late to consider the welfare of the people living in the area.In view of this, the undersigned respectfully request that the polder dike and the regulation ponds be scrapped from the flood control plan for the benefit of the people of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela.

Thank you very much and we look forward to your favorable reply to our appeal. Respectfully yours


Chairman- Urban Poor Ministry Diocese of Kalookan

Carina Agarao

Center for Community Advancement

Bishop Deogracias S. Iniguez Jr. D.D.
Bishop – Diocese of Kalookan


  • At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Earth Scientist said…

    stupid DPWH. i've seen first-hand the clash of the geologists and the engineers of the said project. unfortunately, DPWH remains stubborn up to this very moment.

    they are wasting people's money.


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