Monday, May 14, 2012

Execs allay quarrying fears on Angat Water Park

Bustos Dam

MALOLOS CITY—Bulacan officials allay fears on possible resumption of rampant quarrying in the province with the construction of the planned Angat Sports Water Park that will rival similar facility in Camarines Sur.

This came as Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid led the groundbreaking ceremony in Angat town earlier this week.

Officials also made assurance that the water park will be safe as water related activity will only be held on summer days, and not during the wet season when Angat Dam release water into the river.

However, they noted operation of other facilities in the planned water park, like restaurants zip lines and others will continue even during the wet season.

“There is nothing to fear, “Alvarado said yesterday, “while there will be quarrying along the river, it will be monitored and regulated.”

As an eco-tourism project endorsed by TIEZA, Alvarado said that part of the proposed three hectare water park will require quarrying to even the depth.

He said that based on preliminary design, depth and width of the river were predetermined.

“The river bed is un-even, so, there are parts that will be quarried, but only based on the required depth,” he said adding it will be regulated in order to protect the embankment of the river and prevent possible erosion.

Alvarado added that Angat Water Park can rival similar but man-made facility in Camarines Sur due to its proximity to Metro Manila.

Concern over possible resumption of rampant quarrying along the Angat River was raised by local residents after Alvarado and Lapid led the ground breaking ceremony for the Angat Sports Water Park early this week.

Residents cited in the 2000, similar project was proposed by the local officials, but they said it was used by some officials as an excuse for rampant quarry operations.

A resident who asked not to be identified said quarrying was partly to blame in the killing of the former municipal administrator of Angat town who was gunned down by New Peoples Army rebels in 2003.

It was followed by torching of quarry equipment and other machineries in 2004, an incident whose responsibility was also claimed by the rebels.

With regards to the safety of the water park, Alvarado said water related activities like rowing and dragon boat competitions will only be held during summer.

The same was echoed by Mayors Feliciano Legazpi of Norzagaray and Arnel Mendoza of Bustos.

But Mendoza added that they are also working on safety measures for water related activities during the wet season.

Earlier, Lapid asked the town mayors of Angat, Norzagaray, Bustos and San Rafael to come with their own tourism packages related to the planned water park.

This due to the fact that the water park is not only concentrated in Angat town as the river spans all four towns.

Mendoza said that as early as January, they initiated a rowing and kayaking exhibition on Bustos Dam at the lower part of the upstream of Angat River.

“At present, we can actually hold such activities even before the completion of the Angat Water Park, but of course, it will be better if we have Waterpark,” Mendoza said.

For his part, Mayor Legazpi said that during summer, parts of the Angat River in Norzagaray town have been drawing thousands of local tourists.

“It is like a poor man’s resort especially Sitio Pugpog and Sitio Bitbit,” he said.  (Dino Balabo)