Thursday, April 18, 2024

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SMC river cleanup goes to Central Luzon, extricates over 2M tons of wastes in Bulacan

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Less than four months since completing its P2-billion initiative to clean up the Pasig River, San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) comprehensive efforts to rehabilitate major river systems has shifted to high gear in Central Luzon.

In a little over a year, the company has removed more than 2 million MT of silt and waste covering a distance of around 25 kilometers of river channels in Bulacan, initially focusing in areas around the future New Manila International Airport and upstream rivers in Obando, Bulakan, Bocaue and Meycauayan City within the same catch basin.

Additionally, SMC has started conducting bathymetric studies at the Pampanga River, following the completion of river studies in another catch basin in Bulacan.

These studies aim to assess the depth of water across the river channels and determine the shallow areas that restrict the flow of water through both provinces before reaching Manila Bay. Heavy siltation and pollution in these rivers are major contributors to the widespread flooding in both Bulacan and Pampanga.

Ramon S. Ang, SMC President and CEO, said that although the rainy season is months away, their cleanup teams have started working to increase the water-carrying capacity of these rivers and mitigate flooding, especially in low-lying areas, during heavy rains.

Ang explained that siltation and pollution have made many rivers narrow, shallow, and less capable of handling large volumes of floodwater, leading to severe flooding in adjacent areas.

He added: “Similar to our efforts at the Pasig and Tullahan Rivers, we are removing years of solid waste and silt accumulation to increase the rivers’ depth and capacity. This will not only improve water flow but also ensure safer conditions for water vessels.”

Last October 2023, SMC launched its expanded river cleanup program by signing a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the local government units of several cities and provinces. 

The expanded program will include the upstream areas of the Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue and Guiguinto; other main river systems in different catch basins in Malolos, Hagonoy and Calumpit; the Pampanga River, and rivers in Laguna, Cavite, Navotas, and San Juan.

“Since the completion of our Pasig and Tullahan river cleanups, communities and stakeholders have reported lesser incidence of heavy flooding in their areas. In instances where there is still flooding, floodwaters still recede faster,” Ang noted.

He added: “Our recent project to clean up the Tullahan and Pasig Rivers has given our people significant experience and expertise in carrying out such massive efforts.  Combined with our robust fleet of heavy equipment that we’ve already invested in, we’re fully prepared and committed to undertake this expanded cleanup to rid our rivers of pollution and mitigate flooding” Ang said.

To date, SMC has removed a total of 2,017,336 metric tons of silt and waste completing the surrounding rivers of future site of the  New Manila International airport in Maycapiz – Taliptip River, downstream part of Meycauayan River, and moving upstream of Meycuayan River, Mailad- Sta Maria River and Guiguinto River.

Including the total output of its Pasig River cleanup, which includes the still-ongoing cleanup of the San Juan River (1,437,391 tons of silt and wastes) and the completed Tullahan River cleanup  (1,124,183 metric tons), SMC’s river rehabilitation efforts have removed over 4.5 million tons of wastes from approximately 68 kilometers of river systems.

SMC is further extending its cleanup operations in Bulacan to include the Pamarawan River, Malolos River, Hagonoy River, Labangan-Angat River, and Pampanga River, extending up to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

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