Lake Maughan water level up due to clogged channel

KORONADAL CITY  (MindaNews/06 January) — Water level in Lake Maughan in T’boli, South Cotabato has risen due to a clogged waterway, an official said on Friday.

Silverio Tandog, project manager of the Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance (AVLDA), said boulders have impeded the flow of water at the mouth of Lake Maughan.

“There’s a need to clear the waterway from these blockades to allow the normal flow of water downstream,” he said.

Tandog said the spillway has become smaller due to the boulders, causing water to rise at the lake.

But the rise of impounded water at the lake has not reached the critical level, he noted.

Flashfloods struck parts of South Cotabato on September 6, 1995 after  a portion of the lake’s crater caved in, blamed on alleged treasure hunting activities.

An estimated 30 million cubic meters of water or the equivalent of 12,000 Olympic-size pools,  flowed out destructively from the lake, leaving residents in utter shock and grief. Several low-lying areas were submerged in water for several days.

Based on the official records of the PDCC (Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council now PDRRMC or Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council), the 1995 flashflood killed at least 53 people, 14 of them not recovered. Damages to farmlands and infrastructure were pegged at P212 million.

The 304-hectare Lake Maughan, also called Lake Holon, is nestled at the crater of Mt. Parker and  is located at an estimated elevation of 4,750 feet above sea level.

Holon is T’boli word for “deep water.”

On Thursday, a composite team from the AVLDA, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and the provincial and local governments conducted an inspection on Lake Maughan.

Initially, the team reportedly recommended the manual removal of the obstacles in the water channel.

But a machine may be needed, as some rocks are huge.

They piled up after a series of landslides that occurred at the lake’s walls since late last year.

Tandog said they were to discuss Friday the measures that would be taken on the problem.

He feared that if heavy rains would fall in the area and nothing is done to address the problem, a disaster may happen as the impounded water could further increase and may result to the collapse of one of the lake’s wall like in 1995.

Isidro Janita, PDRRMC chair, said they have intensified their disaster preparedness by closely working with the local government units.

“We must continue to closely monitor and coordinate with LGUs to be fully prepared, and come up with a quick response unit in case certain disaster will affect high-risk areas in our province,” he said. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)