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Upgrading dams

Dams need upgrading

THROUGHOUT the year, dams across the Philippines are supposed to block or control the flow of water to prevent the flooding of low-lying communities during heavy downpours.

And the country’s dams provide water for domestic, industry and irrigation purposes. They also provide hydroelectric power production and water navigation.

But sometimes, excess water intentionally released from dams to prevent them from breaking rushes downstream, inundating flood-prone areas and destroying everything in its path.

And so last week, Sen. Imee R. Marcos bared her plan to file a bill that seeks to upgrade the country’s dams and other water facilities amid the challenges of population growth and climate change.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, noted that decades of neglect of dams and other water infrastructure led to the severe flashfloods that ravaged Cagayan and Isabela.

The lady senator from Ilocos Norte said the 38-year-old Magat Dam, which is located in the provinces of Ifugao and Isabela, and other old dams in the country have not been upgraded for decades.

Marcos said that Magat Dam’s surrounding watershed forests have been denuded and hence it would have collapsed under the deluge of powerful Typhoon Ulysses if excess water was not released.

“The cycle of calamity, panic and suffering will continue unless we improve our water infrastructure,” said Imee, daughter of the late President Marcos and former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos.

Marcos also wants to revive flood control projects, like the unfinished Paranaque Spillway and the dredging of Laguna Lake, which could mitigate flooding in Metropolitan Manila and neighboring areas.

Likewise, she called for the establishment of more rain-harvesting facilities in this impoverished nation of more than 100 million people, noting that less than 10 percent of rainfall in the country is harvested.

Upgrading our dams and other water facilities is, without doubt, a move in the right direction.