Monday, October 3, 2011

Perennial threat of heavy rains and flooding in Mogpog

A consultation meeting with Brgy. Bocboc officials this morning

The Pedring and Quiel back-to-back typhoons that affected more than 2 millions individuals, said DSWD, left at least 55 people dead and hundreds of villagers stuck on rooftops. Almost all of Luzon incuding Metro Manila was covered by storm signals but the island of Marinduque was spared.

But people of this island who have watched the news coverage of the two typhoons' aftermaths must have realized how lucky they've been so far. So far.

Wasn't it so that the government of the Philippines in 2001 and 2004 commissioned the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct surveys (the latter one costing P 20-million) to provide a scientific assessment of mining-related environmental issues in Marinduque? The USGS then reported how four earth dams, the Maguila-guila, Bol River Dam and the Upper and Lower Makulapnit Dams could, because of their structural flaws, with strong typhoon or unusually heavy rains, release mine wastes in our downstream villages again.

Addressing that problem would involve hundreds of millions of pesos, at least, yes, but poor, controlled, largely unempowered Marinduque, once the site of the biggest tropical mining concern in Asia and the Pacific region, was perhaps considered so politically insignificant, that those studies were apparently allowed to just sleep in the floorboards of the national government offices concerned.

But, but, the dangers of the current situation of the Mogpog River, particularly in the vicinity of Bocboc and other downstream villages where residents are faced with the perennial problem of flooding are once more, dawning upon the villagers' consciousness again.

What if the next typhoon hits the island and dumps unusually heavy rains in just a few hours or so, enough to bring those dams and the mine wastes crashing down? We've been lucky for more than 15 years now since the mining company abandoned the dams of that mine site closed down after the 1996 mine spill.

PENRO (Querijero), talks about existing rain gauges in the most vulnerable areas and an early warning system so the people could evacuate to higher ground;

DPWH (ADE David), asks what appropriate flood control structure to construct with a measly budget since the appropriate flood control project in the area would involve hundreds of millions of pesos; he asks those concerned to consider relocating the residents in the affected low-lying areas just a little farther up in the same villages and spend the money on these things if only to ensure that lives are protected.

PENRO talks about the main source of sedimentation being an area of some 24 hectares of overburden that's from 5 to 25 meters thick that must be addressed, possibly by designing a slope erosion control system, he said, lest any kind of dredging would be rendered useless.

Some villagers see their relocation as a workable thing for as long as national agencies of government will really come into the picture to lend their helping hand, and they'll talk about it, think about it.

In the meantime, there's a new weather disturbance, a low pressure area, monitored 660 kilometers east of Visayas and could either dissipate or strengthen into a tropical depression in the next few days, said the weather bureau.



The brewing storm, hopefully will not be as violent when that morning breaks, but what about the next one or the one after that? The 19th, 20th or 21st storm... or next year's climate change-caused unpredictable weather disturbances?

Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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