Earthquake prompts new call for rehab of aging Angat dam

By , on June 26, 2014

View of Angat Dam from San Lorenzo (Hilltop), Norzagaray, Bulacan.
View of Angat Dam from San Lorenzo (Hilltop), Norzagaray, Bulacan.

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan — The magnitude 5.7 earthquake that jolted Batangas and nearby provinces, including parts of Bulacan Wednesday night, has once again prompted provincial leaders here to urge the national government to immediately start the repair and strengthening of the 46-year-old Angat dam in the mountains of Norzagaray town.

Experts said that the Angat dam is sitting along the West Valley fault line and could collapse if jolted by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.

Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado reiterated the call during the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Summit held on Thursday at the Hiyas Pavilion here.

Alvarado said an earthquake is different from other equally devastating natural disasters.

“It comes like a thief in the night, without warning and cannot be predicted unlike typhoons. The magnitude 5.7 earthquake that jolted many parts of Luzon, including some areas in Bulacan might be a wake–up call to make our national leaders realize that as days pass by, the aging Angat dam is becoming a ticking time and a virtual ‘sword of Damocles,” the governor said.

He said the dam has a life span of 50 years and was built in a period when modern technology was only starting to grow.

The repair of the dam has been approved by President Benigno Aquino III, who allocated P5.7 billion for the structure’s repair and strengthening.

The rehabilitation got stalled, however, after the Supreme Court declared as “constitutional” the bid of a Korean firm (K-Water) to operate the 46-year-old dam with a Filipino company controlling the majority shares.

Under its contract with the Philippine government, K-Water should shoulder the repair and rehabilitation of the dam but until now it has yet to happen.

Alvarado said that the provincial government through the PDRRMO is regularly conducting drills, seminars and massive information drive on disaster control awareness.

“A little preparation is better than no preparation at all,” he said.

During the Provincial DRMM Summit, experts and resource speakers from Project Noah, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (NDRRMO) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) briefed participants from various emergency rescue teams and the municipal and city DRRMO on gaining resiliency through mitigative measures and the Yolanda experience.

The summit was attended by Vice Governor Daniel Fernando, OCD-3 regional director and Central Luzon DRRMC Chair Josefina Timoteo and Bulacan DRRM executive officer Liz Mungcal.