Metro Manila is not ready for another “Ondoy”

The ongoing saga of poor infrastructure and clogged waterways in Metro Manila is still dogging plans of Metro Manila being able to deal with heavy rain and flooding similar to that of typhoon Ondoy which hit the Philippines last year.

On Monday which is the first anniversary of typhoon Ondoy happening the chairman of the MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) Fracis Tolentino said that the Metro’s clogged drainage systems and waterways would cause massive flooding should rainfall fall similar to that of Ondoy.

"I have to admit, infrastructure-wise some of our drainage systems, lateral systems are still clogged. We may not be ready for that. I have to admit that–and you know this for a fact–that some of our esteros (creeks) are still clogged not just with litters but with informal settlers," he said in a press conference in Malacañang.

He went on to say the government is working to clean up the waterways and graft long-term plans to minimise future flooding.

The Estero Declaration has been signed and agreed by 17 Metro Manila mayors and MMDA which is expected to improve the situation. It was signed on the September 24th which gives the mayors responsibility to implement anti-littering ordinances and to clean aswell as dredge Esteros creeks, as well as other waterways within their jurisdictions. The MMDA is also currently drafting a new integrated flood control plan for Metro Manila as the old one is dated (originally created around 1952). This should be completed by mid November.

Part of ongoing projects is the Manila Blueprint 2030 this will involve a more comprehensive plan to deal with the ongoing situation and cover flood control, flood management and urban renewal amongst other things. Additionally to this new pumping stations and extra pumps will be installed to increase the capability of Metro Manila to deal with flood water. Other proposals put forward also requested upgrades of existing drainage systems and the widening as well as dredging of rivers.

We cannot avoid floods. Accept that as a reality, just like we can’t avoid traffic," he said. But we can reduce floods, and the consequences.

Malacañang has proposed only P980 million for the MMDA’s 2011 budget, which means the MMDA will have to work closer with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and private firms to implement its proposals.

The current reasons for the heavy flooding in Metro Manila is rapid urbanisation, clogging and siltration of drainage and waterways, encroachment of open waterways by properties and various other things, lack of integrated land use plans, excessive rainfall believed to be due to global warming and inadequate flood control structures.

There are two major flood control facilities in the metropolis: (1) the Manggahan floodway which traverses Pasig City, Cainta, and Taytay; and (2) the Napindan hydraulic control structure which regulates the flow of water between Pasig River and Laguna Lake.

Currently there are around 70,000 families that have settled along the banks of the waterways hampering the smooth flow of water.

Onday had a month’s worth of rain fall within six hours on September 26th of last year which resulted in the death of 464 people and 529 injured. In total it affected 4,846,417 people..