Friday, April 12, 2013

Strictly monitor dams, expert said

MALOLOS CITY—While dams in Central Luzon remain safe after the 5.4 earthquake that hit Baler, Aurora on April 4, a dam safety expert advised that a thorough monitoring and assessment on structures be conducted.

Engineer Roderick Dela Cruz, a Bulakenyo dam safety expert based in California said that in the United States, they immediate conduct the same after an earthquake of at least magnitude 5.

“We want to be sure of the safety of our facilities,” said during his presentation on dam safety here on Thursday afternoon, April 4 hours after the earthquake.

As lead dam safety engineer of Southern California Edison (SCE), Dela Cruz manages 82 large dams with age range of 80 to 100 years old.

He said that immediate monitoring and assessment of dam structures especially dikes and spillways are important to see its integrity.

The said actions are mandated by US state and federal laws on dam safety that set standards in the management of dams.

He said that it is unfortunate that in the Philippines there is no law yet that cover dam safety which will also set standards in dam management.

“There are many stake holders in dam operations in the Philippines, but there is no single office that monitors the dam because there no law on dam safety,” he said.

He also lamented Congress’s slow pace on the ratification of the proposed bill for a national dam safety program.

However, he remained optimistic that advocacy n dam safety can be taken by local government units through the enactment of provincial ordinance on the same concern.

This was affirmed by Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado in an interview after Dela Cruz’s presentation.

Alvarado vowed that he will coordinate with the Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Bulacan to pass a local ordinance on dam safety.

He said that a local ordinance can later be improved by Congress, and will serve as their basis in passing a national law which takes time.

Meawhile, the National Power Corporation (Napocor) made assurance that Angat Dam in Hilltop,Norzagaray town is safe after the recent earthquake.

Engineer Rodolfo German,the general manager of the Angat River Hydroelectric Power Plant (Arhepp) said that Thursday’s earthquake was hardly felt at the dam.
However,he said that Napoco Dams and Waterways division along with representatives of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology were tasked to conduct monitoring and assessment of dam structures.

Constructed 43-years ago, Angat Dam is facing its first major rehabilitation due to the presence of a splay of the Marikina West Valley Faultline near the dam’s dike.

The Aquino Administration has allocated P5.7-Billion for the said rehabilitation but the bidding for the construction still have to be conducted.  Dino Balabo