Amid heavy rains: Tullahan river cleanup, gov’t measures reduce flooding in Navotas, Malabon and Valenzuela

Communities along the Tullahan River are now reaping the benefits of government and private sector’s flood mitigation efforts after monsoon rains flooded parts of Luzon and some areas in Metro Manila.

Thanks to government’s construction of a river wall, the continuous operation of pumping stations and the ongoing P1-billion river dredging and cleanup initiative of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), floods that affected Navotas, Malabon and Valenzuela City following several days of heavy rains subsided quickly from before the mitigation programs were put in place.

The mitigation measures prevented water levels from rising, significantly reducing its damage to the flood-prone communities.

“With the heavy rains brought by Typhoon Fabian and the southwest monsoon the past few days, we closely monitored the flooding situation at critical sections of the Tullahan River. Despite the heavy rains even during the high tide period, there was no river overflow and the flash floods at nearby areas quickly subsided in a few hours,” SMC president Ramon S. Ang said.

“Based on the feedback of the Valenzuela, Malabon and Navotas LGUs, the combination of the river wall, pumping stations, and dredging, have helped lessen the risk of flooding. We were also told that flooding was mostly situated at low-lying areas due to the heavy rains. We’re glad many of our countrymen here remained safe. We will continue to evaluate the flooding patterns and, if needed, adjust our cleanup activities accordingly, in coordination with the LGUs,” he added.

Valenzuela mayor Rex Gatchalian also thanked SMC for the dredging effort that significantly reduced the flooding in the area. ”The floodwaters disappeared quickly. Yesterday, it was gone after five hours. Before it takes the whole day,” Gatchalian said.

Earlier, in anticipation of the rainy season, SMC said that its dredging teams accelerated and intensified clean-up efforts at sections it is currently working on along the 27-kilometer river system, a main tributary to Manila Bay.

Currently, the teams are undertaking widening operations at the river’s section between Marulas, Valenzuela and Potrero, Malabon. Meanwhile, dredging of sections in Barangay Bangkulasi and Tanong in Navotas City have been completed, while the cleanup team is also currently operating in Barangay Longos in Malabon City.

As of July 22, Ang reported that SMC had extracted 332,192 metric tons of silt and solid waste from the river. All wastes extracted are moved to government-approved disposal centers.

“There’s still a lot that needs to be done to ensure that severe flooding is significantly reduced in these areas. And with the help of the national and local government, the communities, and other stakeholders, I’m sure that within five years from the start of the project, or by 2025, we will complete the cleaning, widening, and deepening the Tullahan river, and address widespread flooding in communities and cities areas where it flows. We hope to improve even the water quality so that it can be conducive to marine life,” Ang said.

“This cleanup also supports the much larger goal of rehabilitating the Manila Bay and minimizing the amount of plastic and garbage brought to our oceans through our major rivers, threatening biodiversity and our traditional fishing grounds,” he added.

SMC’s P1 billion Tullahan-Tinajeros River System Cleanup project is part of the company’s wider set of sustainability goals, which include cutting its Group-wide utility water use by 50% 2025, and planting more than 7 million trees nationwide through its power business and other businesses units.

Recently, SMC also announced a major climate change initiative–dropping all future coal power projects in favor of executing on its long-term plan of supporting the needed power capacity expansion of the country, through cleaner and renewable technologies.

In 2017, it discontinued its plastic bottled water business to demonstrate its commitment to reduce plastic pollution of rivers, seas and oceans.

In cooperation with the DENR, the company has also announced another major river rehabilitation project, this time for the historic but long-biologically dead Pasig River.

Ang said the company is spending P2 billion for the five-year corporate social responsibility (CSR) project, or double the budget allocated for the Tullahan-River project. SMC aims to extract 50,000 metric tons of silt and solid waste monthly or a total of 3 million metric tons for five years.

The company will also undertake a river channel improvement program for tributaries belonging to Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando River System (MMORS) in Bulacan, future site of the New Manila International Airport (NMIA).