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‘Water must travel for 7 km’: Why Metro floods hard to solve

TOO LATE  Residents try to move a car submerged on Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City, as the road goes underwater within minutes during a downpour on Wednesday. EDWIN BACASMAS

TOO LATE Residents try to move a car submerged on Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City, as the road goes underwater within minutes during a downpour on Wednesday. EDWIN BACASMAS

What flood control?

Residents, motorists and commuters are neck-deep in rage and frustration over the recurring flash floods on Metro Manila roads, as experienced once again Wednesday morning when a thunderstorm (not even a typhoon) hit parts of the capital and snarled traffic for hours.

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Flood waters rose within minutes, for example, on Mother Ignacia Avenue and Elliptical Road in Quezon City; Magallanes, Pasong Tamo and Buendia in Makati City, among other high-traffic areas.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which earlier in the year trumpeted news about the completed repairs of flood-control stations and the cleanup of drainage systems and waterways across the capital, offered various explanations for the unabated problem.

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‘Catchment area’

“The Magallanes tunnel is a sagging portion and serves as a catchment area of runoff water so it easily gets flooded especially during heavy rains,” said MMDA’s Flood Control and Sewerage Management Office head Emma Quiambao.

The MMDA has proposed a project to improve the drainage system along nearby Pasong Tamo Extension, which also discharges water into the tunnel. “We proposed it for (implementation) next year but Chair Francis Tolentino wants to have it done within this year. We are still looking for a budget, though.”

As to Mother Ignacia, Quiambao said it is also a low-lying stretch of road but it actually has a box culvert or a structure that allows water to flow underneath. “There is a drainage, but this is from V. Luna crossing East Avenue going to Tanque Creek, which has a lot of informal settlers.”

Water collecting on Mother Ignacia has a long distance to travel before draining out into of the nearest river, she said. The drainage system on that road runs up to Panay Avenue, crosses Quezon Avenue, then San Francisco Creek, before reaching San Juan River.

“There’s a 7-kilometer stretch where the water stays at a low portion before it is discharged to the main line,” Quiambao said, adding that silt and garbage clogging the drainage further slows down the flow of the water.

Delayed QC project

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The MMDA official maintained that her agency had conducted estero cleanup activities for that area, but conceded that flooding would recur until the completion of a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) project on Quezon Avenue where the Mother Ignacia drainage line connects.

For those peeved by the recurring floods on Elliptical Road in Quezon City, the city engineering office said there’s actually a P40-million drainage project designed to solve that problem.

But the project had been delayed because the path of the culvert pipe is still being blocked by the fiber optic cable line of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), said City Engineer Joselito Cabungcal.

PLDT had already made a proposal to raise its cable line and asked the MMDA for a permit to work round-the-clock for 21 straight days to accomplish it, Cabungcal said.

Still no permit

But the MMDA has yet to approve the permit because of the heavy traffic in that area. “They want the work to be done only at night, but PLDT wants continuous work because of the sensitive fiber optics,” Cabungcal told the Inquirer Thursday.

In a letter dated Aug. 10 urging Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista to intercede and help expedite the issuance of the permit, Cabungcal said MMDA Traffic Engineering head Neomie Recio had recommended a 24-hour work schedule on weekends and only nighttime work on weekdays.

The Elliptical Road Drainage System project started on Sept. 15 last year and was supposed to be finished on March 14 this year. It involves the installation of a 300-meter pipeline running along the side of the Quezon Memorial Circle from Kalayaan Avenue to a creek on Quezon Avenue.

PLDT’s concrete box is blocking the pipe’s path on the corner of Quezon Avenue and Elliptical Road, Cabungcal said.

The project is already 90-percent complete, with just about 30 meters of pipeline left to be installed to connect the system to a creek on Quezon Avenue. Once completed, it is expected to solve the flash floods on Elliptical during heavy rains.

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TAGS: Buendia, Flash Floods, Flood, Magallanes, metro floods, Mother Ignacia, Pasong Tamo, traffic
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