Massive flooding feared if Angat Dam fails

by Henry Omaga-Diaz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 12 2012 09:46 PM | Updated as of Jun 14 2012 09:22 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Experts warn of massive flooding and casualties if catastrophe hits the 44-year-old Angat Dam.

Experts said the life span of dams is only 50 years.

Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Sy Alvarado says another concern is that the dam's reservoir lies on top of a fault line.

“Mayroong crack, mayroong fault. Ito ay layer of soil and stones underneath na uneven. Kapag ito raw ay nag-move at nag-trigger ng earthquake, kinakatakot nila ay at 7.2-magnitude, kaya ba ito ng istraktura ng Angat Dam?” said Alvarado said.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) commissioned a study by US company Grimston, Tonkin and Taylor and the agency's administrator Gerry Esquivel says the results are alarming.

“Ang projection namin ay P201 billion ang damage and 30,000 lives. Nakakatakot din pero as of today, it has survived 44 years of operation so we are hoping that it can survive the construction period,” said Esquivel.

If Angat Dam fails, it will result in flooding in 20 towns in Bulacan, 3 towns in Pampanga and 3 cities in Metro Manila.

The floodwaters are estimated to reach between 10 and 30 meters.

Metro Manila and Bulacan depend on Angat Dam for electricity, drinking water and irrigation.

However, Rodolfo German, general manager of the Angat Hydroelectric Power Plant dispels fears that cracks have weakened the dam.

“Hindi naman napatunayan pa na ‘yun ay karugtong ng fault,” said German.

German acknowledges that dam's lifespan is only 50 years but he insists this can be extended with proper maintenance.

President Benigno Aquino III has already ordered the release of P5.7 billion for the dam's rehabilitation. -- ANC