By Mielmia Marie T. Baquiran
A team from the University of the Philippines Marine Institute in Diliman headed by Dr. Fernando Siringan of the University of the Philippines (UP) Marine Science Institute recommended the dredging of a portion of Cagayan River to alleviate flooding and riverbank erosion in the province.
Dr. Siringan, together with his team of biologists and geologists, was commissioned by the Provincial Government of Cagayan to conduct a three-month study on the geomorphic changes of the lower Cagayan River as basis for rehabilitation. The said study ran from October- December 2011. He presented his recommendation to various local government officials and department heads, barangay folks, employees of government and non-government agencies, teachers and students, and the general public during a presentation of their study last January 20, 2012 at Aparri Gymnasium, Aparri, Cagayan.
Dr. Siringan’s study revealed that Cagayan River has undergone significant geomorphic changes over the years. Geomorphic changes refer to the changes in landforms on earth, including rivers. In an initial presentation of the study last October 27, 2011 in Tuguegarao City, Dr. Siringan emphasized the changes of the Cagayan River by comparing the 1945 image of the river to its present state. According to him, the shifts in Cagayan River triggered flooding and bank erosion in the province.
Meanwhile, Siringan proposed that dredging could be the most possible solution to solve the problem on perennial floods and bank erosions in many municipalities. Dredging is a flood control structural intervention wherein the channel of a river is widened or deepened so as to confine flood flows within the reconstructed river.
“Dredging is the most cost-effective solution that we propose,” Siringan said. He emphasized though that dredging has significant ecological and environmental adverse effects. Thus, he recommended that dredging should be done responsibly and carefully. Add to this, Siringan pointed the importance of putting up watersheds and the development of mangrove areas along the dredged areas of Cagayan River to secure the biological species thriving in the river. He lauded the efforts of Governor Alvaro T. Antonio in constructing various small-water impounding projects (SWIPs) all over the province as a response to the need to protect the environment and also to help farmers as well. He also proposed the strict and constant monitoring of the dredging activities in Cagayan, as to secure that these activities will only adhere to the bounds of the proposed recommendations and appropriate rules and regulations.
On the other hand, Governor Antonio reiterated his message last October 27, 2011 during the initial presentation of the study that he will only agree to dredge Cagayan River based on the recommendations of the commissioned study. He said once again that this endeavor seeks to solve flooding in the province. He urged the Cagayanos to take active participation in the restoration and protection of Cagayan River.