Iloilo River Summit hopes to identify watershed rehab policy gaps

May 21, 2012 10:36 pm 

MANILA, May 21 — Authorities aim to identify during this month's international river summit in Iloilo City policy gaps related to rehabilitating river basins and waterways there.

This is intended to address deficiencies to help protect communities from flooding, particularly amid climate change.

"Discussions during the summit can reveal such gaps," said Dr. Vicente Tuddao Jr., executive director of the River Basin Control Office which is among the event's proponents.

He raised urgency for addressing the policy gaps, noting environmental degradation is killing river basins and waterways nationwide.

River basin is a watershed of over 1,000 square kilometers and having topographic boundaries typically covering land within three or more provinces and two or more regions, RBCO noted.

"Watersheds are very vulnerable to flooding, however," Tuddao said.

He noted that deforestation, pollution and siltation are among the factors that raise such areas' flooding risk.

"Pollution and siltation impede water flow in waterways so these tend to overflow faster during rainfall, submerging communities nearby," he said.

The country is likely to experience more rainfall as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration's climate change projections show possible onslaught of wetter rainy seasons in the coming decades.

Earlier, the government cited as being biologically dead Metro Manila's San Juan River and three other waterways in this region.

The Environmental Management Bureau reported it has commenced preparations for signing with a retail giant the agreement on cleaning up part of San Juan River.

Such cleanup will be undertaken through EMB's Adopt-an-Estero program under which the government's private partner will provide resources for the activity.

EMB supports the activity by conducting information campaigns in communities near waterways targeted for cleaning up so people there can learn about pollution's ills.

Cleanup activities were earlier initiated in three of Metro Manila's biologically dead waterways: Marikina River, Pasig River and Navotas-Malabon-Tenejeros-Tullahan River.

"River systems are important as these are our economy's lifeblood," Tuddao said.

He noted river systems host activities related to fishing, eco-tourism and recreation.

Waterways also serve as transportation conduits, he added. (PNA) hbc/scs/CJT/mec

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