By Leonardo V. Micua
DAGUPAN CITY, Oct. 25 An official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) tagged the frequent overflow of water from the already heavily silted Pantal River as the main reason for the floods in Dagupan City every rainy season.
Second Highway District Engineer Rodolfo Dion, speaking during the first-ever outside session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) in the island Barangay of Salapingao here, underscored the need for dredging of the river to solve the recurrent flooding.
He recalled that Pantal River was very deep many years ago, thus it was still able to carry the big volume of water being discharged from the Sinocalan River in Sta. Barbara town.
In contrast, the river is now very shallow and too narrow to accommodate all the water coming from upstream.
The Pantal River in Dagupan is connected to the Sinocalan River to where all the water of the Toboy and Tagamusing Rivers in San Manuel and Binalonan, and the Mitura River in Urdaneta are draining their water.
Given the fact that Dagupan is one meter below sea level, Dion insinuated that in order to minimize the recurrent flood, the Pantal River must be restored to its condition many years ago, when it was still deep and wide.
Dion revealed that for the past 50 years, the river did not go through any dredging although it is public knowledge that during flood incidents, mud and garbage from upstream are being washed down to the Pantal River and accumulate in the bottom and banks, resulting in siltation.
When mud gathers in the river banks, it creates accretion which many people over the years took advantage of by applying foreshore lease agreements with responsible agencies.
All of a sudden after that, Dion said, the accreted areas were annexed by private individuals from where they built permanent structures and even warehouses.
This was the reason the river became narrow, from Quintos Bridge down to the Ramos Bridge in Calasiao town, with only a few meters now left as passageway of water being discharged from Sinocalan River.
Unable to go through its normal course, the water had to find its way somewhere else, thus explaining the flood in Lasip, Caranglaan, Malued, Lucao, Tebeng, Mangin, Salisay and many other areas in southern Dagupan, Dion added.
He cited the Magsaysay Bridge spanning across the Pantal River which was 193 meters from one abutment to the other when it was constructed by the Italian company Foundation Specialists in 1992 after the killer earthquake.
Look how wide is the river now. It is not even one-third of 193 meters, Dion said, pointing at some of the structures that sprouted over the years in the eastern and western banks of the river when he accompanied Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez and members of the SP to an ocular inspection of the river from Dagupan to Calasiao.
Vice Mayor Fernandez noted that the river is now only less than seven feet deep in Barangay Pantal and only three feet deep in Barangay Banaoang, Calasiao.
Dion recalled that before and after the bridge was re-built, the flow of water downstream of the Pantal River was still strong as the encroachment was not yet so grave.
Asked if the drainage canals can help abate flood, Dion said that these structures can only take care of the outflow of rainwater but not the flood spawned by the overflow of water from the Pantal River.
He told the SP that the long-term solution to the flooding is the dredging of the Pantal River from its mouth to the boundary of Calasiao, while a parallel dredging should also be done from Sta. Barbara to Calasiao.
He said the dredging work needs the cooperation of all as this will entail huge resources and time, hinting that if dredging is done on a daily basis and continuously, work can be completed in one year.
Dion said the DPWH has a dredging machine already stationed in the Calmay River here but has long been inactive for lack of fuel.
He said the machine needs 200 liters of fuel per hour, equivalent to one drum or approximately P10,000 more or less.
But the recovery for one-hour work is high – at least 1,000 cubic meters. He recommended six-hour a day dredging for at least one year.
At the same time, he suggested the creation of an inter-agency body that could recommend the retrieval of portions of the Pantal River illegally annexed by private individuals. (PNA)