SouthCot clears debris off Lake Holon

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 January) — The provincial government of South Cotabato has launched massive clearing operations at the critical crater-lake Holon in T’boli town to prevent possible flashfloods in its downstream outlets.

Milagros Lorca, acting head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said Friday they are currently clearing the lake of water hyacinths or water lilies and other wastes that could eventually clog up its outlets.

She said the clogging of wastes on its outlet-tributaries could cause the damming of water and eventually trigger flashfloods.

Citing reports from their area monitors, she said water hyacinths and other water weeds have already started to fill up a portion of the lake’s main outlet.

“This might later cause the water level in the lake to rise and cause flooding in vulnerable communities in the downstream areas,” Lorca said in a statement.

She said they launched the cleanup after conducting an onsite inspection and assessment of the status of Lake Holon, formerly known as Maughan.

She said they tapped local residents to lead the clearing operations through the local government’s food-for-work program.

Based on their assessment, Lorca said there is a need to conduct clearing activities to de-clog the lake of accumulated wastes once every quarter.

She said they submitted a request to Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes for the purchase of two pump boats that will be used for the clearing activities.

Lorca said they also recommended the immediate replacement of the worn-out rain gauge installed at the site, the installation of staff gauge or marker for water level monitoring and the establishment of a satellite office near the lake’s main outlet.

The satellite office will house the lake’s caretakers and members of the PDRRMO’s assessment team who will be assigned to monitor the lake, she added.

Flashfloods struck parts of South Cotabato on September 6, 1995 after a portion of the lake’s crater caved in due to 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 Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the 1995 flashflood killed 53 people, 14 of them not recovered. Damages to farmlands and infrastructure were pegged at P212 million. (MindaNews)