DPWH starts feasibility study on watershed rehab and anti-flood measures in Sarangani

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 Apr) – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has started the feasibility study for the multibillion watershed ecosystem rehabilitation and flood risk reduction project in the Buayan-Malungon River Basin in Sarangani province.

Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon said Friday a team from the DPWH central office, along with foreign consultants, are currently in the area to gather the necessary data for the study.

He said the agency formally informed the local government regarding the start of the 11-month feasibility study and other related activities in a visit by the team late last week at the provincial capitol in Alabel town.

The group, which was assisted by district engineer Jonathan Bantug of DPWH-Sarangani, included consultants from Spain, France and South Korea, he said.

“It has an initial funding of around US$31 million (P1.6 billion),” the governor said in a statement.

The project, which was approved in June last year, was among the programs and projects that had been endorsed for Official Development Assistance.

It is a component of the national government’s US$400 million (P21.7 billion) Integrated Flood Risk Management Sector Project, which aims to reduce flood risk and enhance climate resilience in key river basins in parts of the country prioritized by the DPWH.

A project briefer said it covers three core sub-projects in Mindanao – Tagum-Libuganon, Buayan-Malungon and Agus River Basins – and with additional three or four river basins to be supported in Luzon and Visayas, subject to resource allocations.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), which had released around US$1.3 million as project technical assistance, will finance some US$400 million for the project’s implementation through its Ordinary Capital Resources, along with US$100 million from the Agence Française de Développement.

It said the project team discussed with Spain to finance the early warning flood system for the projects in parallel with ADB’s project.

For the Buayan-Malungon River Basin, Solon said the project mainly involves the construction of a major dike and other flood control structures as well as the rehabilitation of the river basin’s watershed areas.

“The megastructure facility that will be built will serve as water reservoir that will be connected to the irrigation facilities. It will ensure water supplies for irrigation during the dry season and provide potable water for residents as well,” he said.

The governor said a massive riverbank reforestation program will also be implemented in areas covered by the river basin in the provinces of Sarangani, Davao Occidental, South Cotabato and this city.

Solon, who chairs the Malungon-Buayan River Basin Management Council, said the provincial government pushed for the approval of the project as one of the top priorities of its Sulong Kalikasan program.

He said it was backed by the provincial board, the province’s seven municipal mayors, Sarangani Rep. Rogelio Pacquiao and Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao.

The Buayan-Malungon River Basin, the 18th largest river basin in the country, has a catchment area of 1,505.09 square kilometers in 68 barangays and 11 municipalities and cities in Soccksargen and Davao Region.

It covers portions of Mt. Matutum, a declared protected area, and drains into the Sarangani Bay.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the river basin is being threatened by the denudation of forest and degradation of its ecosystem, high rate of erosion and siltation and increasing occurrence and worsening effects of floods, and risks from other natural hazards. (MindaNews)