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Focus on proactive solutions to flooding instead of reactionary measures, says Palafox by MyProperty.phPublished: September 30, 2014Updated: December 2, 2014

Arch. Felino Palafox offers possible long-term solutions to the country’s problem of constant flooding.

Flooding all over the country continues to plague Filipinos every time monsoon season rolls around. Just this month, Typhoon Mario once again submerged various parts of the Philippines, causing deaths, road blockages, and property damage.

But while emergency responses to these events have improved since Typhoon Yolanda, we continue to suffer rising waters every time a storm comes. And the reason for this, according to a statement from Arch. Felino A. Palafox of Palafox Associates, is the inconsistency regarding solution implementation as we concentrate on “reactionary measures rather than proactive ones.”

Palafox believes there is a need for the Philippines to implement smart flood control systems similar to those being done in neighboring Asian countries, such as:

• the $514 million Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART Tunnel) in Malaysia, which lessens flash flood problems in Kuala Lumpur
• the $3 billion, 6.3 km underground complex that will pump flood water and release it into the Edo River as a 200-year flood control measure

In the same statement, Palafox also highlighted the stunted plans for the Manggahan Floodway-Parañaque Spillway Complex. Conceptualized back in the early 70s and backed by the Metro Manila Transport, Land Use and Development Planning Project (MMETROPLAN) in 1976-1977, the proposal aimed to build a flood control mechanism that will contain and divert floodwaters in Metro Manila.

The plan involved turning Laguna Lake into an initial flood water container and the Manila Bay a secondary container. When the Pasig and Marikina rivers each critical levels, excess waters will be led to the Laguna Lake through the Manggahan Floodway, and the Parañaque spillway will divert excess water from Laguna Lake to Manila Bay. But while the original plan involved both the floodway and the spillway to be built at the same time, only the floodway was built, which resulted to the overflowing of Laguna Lake during Typhoon Ondoy.

Palafox also shared a few long-term solutions that resulted in a brainstorming between Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture Group regarding urban planning, architecture and engineering related to flooding. The long-term targets included solutions like:

• building a spillway from Laguna Lake to Manila Bay
• establishing 100-year flood lines and rising water levels, using them as a guide to how high structures should be built
• controlling the development in areas that are liable to flooding
• encouraging new developments to incorporate elements like elevated walkways and sky bridges into their design
• focusing on solid waste management
• reforesting catch basins
• updating Daniel Burnham's 1905 plan, the 76-77 MMETROPLAN, and the 2003 Manila Megalopolis Concept Plan 2020
• establishing an Urban Metropolitan Management Review
• Building road dikes around Laguna Lake and relocating settlers
• Prioritizing hazard mapping
• enforcing easements along rivers, lakes, creeks, and esteros

Palafox did offer a silver lining: the World Bank, through the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery Trust Fund, developed a 25-year Metro Manila Flood Management Master Plan. But while it is said to be the comprehensive plan approved by the Aquino administration, we won’t see it in full effect until 2035.


(Photo by Kris Carillo/Flickr Creative Commons)

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