THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced over the weekend that the Task Force Build Back Better (TF BBB) will begin dredging the Marikina River on Feb. 17.
In a statement Saturday, the DENR said an initial dredging activity will take place on a stretch of the river near Marcos Highway in barangay Kalumpang, Marikina City, while bamboo planting will take place where the riverbank traverses the Industrial Valley Complex, also in Marikina.
“The widening of the Marikina River to its original width is but the start of the series of activities the Task Force has identified to address the perennial problem of flooding within the Marikina River Basin,” Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, who chairs TF BBB, was quoted as saying.
He said bamboo is thought to prevent riverbank erosion and siltation, and was pursued in rehabilitating the Cagayan River, which was also the scene of extensive flooding in late 2020.
The DENR said it decided to dredge following reports that parts of the Marikina River were being unlawfully reclaimed, reducing the waterway’s ability to move excess rainwater during typhoons.
In a statement, Mr. Cimatu said that a number of structures were also found to be occupying easement areas, in violation of the Philippine Water Code or Presidential Decree No. 1067.
He said that the DENR’s National Capital Region office conducted aerial and ground surveys which “confirmed that there were encroachments in the river and in the designated legal easements.”
“We will have to show our political will here and sustain our efforts to rehabilitate Marikina River and other waterways. This is just a prelude to the bigger one,” Mr. Cimatu said, referring to the tasks that the TF BBB needed to undertake in a portion of the river that flows through Pasig.
The DENR said that the downstream portion of the river in the Pasig area had a narrower riverbank because of reclamation and the presence of illegal structures.
In November, Mr. Cimatu recommended the widening of the Marikina river to increase its flood carrying capacity after Marikina City and nearby areas were submerged during Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco). — Angelica Y. Yang