Gwen to inspect flood-prone Sapangdaku River

Posted on May 5, 2012

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CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said she will inspect the Sapangdaku River in Toledo City where residents along the riverbanks fear that ongoing sand and gravel extraction will cause flooding later on.

She said the Capitol had issued special permits to operators, who volunteered to help carry out the Capitol’s river rechanneling project which started in March.
Garcia said this was done to prevent flooding of a scale like the 1991 disaster that killed over 600 people in in Ormoc City, Leyte province.

“We did issue a special permit to clear the waterways. The water flow would most likely hit barangay Cambang-ug,” Garcia said in an interview on Thursday.

Off-and-on extraction of river deposits in the Sapangdaku River has made the area vulnerable to floods, a problem that has continued for years.

High demand for sand and gravel, which are sold for P1,200 per cubic meter, stems from a construction boom in Metro Cebu where commercial buildings and condominiums are rising.

Residents in barangay Cambang-ug went to the Department of Envrionment and Natural Resources in Cebu City to complain about the risk of flooding and said water was already “diverted” one kilometer within a dam of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) because of the digging and extraction by operators.

Engineer Edgar Oporto and staff of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (EMB) went to the river on March 6 and 7 after residents complained.

Small-scale mining, however, is regulated by the city and provincial government, not by the DENR.

Oporto said they received a call from the Provincial Environment and Resources Office (PENRO) that Governor Garcia’s April 30 river inspection was “postponed until further notice.”

Governor Garcia said permit holders assured they would clear the river’s chokepoint.

“If we don’t clear it, a flash flood would occur that’s similar to Ormoc City,” she said.

The operators use their own equipment and in turn are allowed to sell sand and gravel gathered from the site.
Garcia said the permit holders are required to plant soil-holding trees to prevent erosion in the riverbank and set up other remedial measures.

“I’ll visit Toledo since sand and gravel permit holders are also waiting for the renewal of their permits,” she said. /Carmel Loise Matus, Correspondent with Correspondent Jessa Chrisna Marie J. Agua

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