MANILA - Pasig River is a finalist in the 2017 Thiess International Riverprize, an award given to the best river management programs in the world, an official of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) said Tuesday.
One of the Philippines' historic rivers is competing against Alaska's Nushagak and Kvichak rivers, Texas' San Antonio River, and the United Kingdom's Tweed River.
Previous winners of the award include Canada's Niagara River, Australia's Lake Eyre Basin, Europe's River Rhine, Africa's Mara River, USA's Willamette and Charles rivers, and the popular River Thames.
The winner of the award will be announced on September 18 in Brisbane, Australia, according to PRRC, which will send a delegation to the event.
BETTER PASIG RIVER
PRRC Executive Director Jose Antonio Goitia said the inclusion of Pasig River as a finalist in the 2017 Thiess International Riverprize is a result of the commission's efforts since it was established in 1999.
In his State of the Pasig River Address on Tuesday, Goitia said the PRRC has relocated 17,561 illegal settler families and dismantled 194 private structures on the river and its tributaries' easements.
From 1999 to 2016, the PRRC established 35,1226.08 linear meters of "environmental preservation areas," a green buffer zone between the river and urban areas.
The PRRC also reported that the Pasig River has deepened from 4 meters to 6 meters in average after years of dredging, making it possible for ferry boats to sail.
Major tributaries, too, such as Estero de Paco, Estero de San Miguel, Estero de Binondo, and Estero de Pandacan, among others, have been rehabilitated, Goitia said.
Despite these improvements, the PRRC said water along the Pasig River has yet to reach "Class C" level, the water quality that can support and sustain aquatic life.
Goitia said illegal settlers and some industrial establishments obstructing easements along the riverbanks are among the major challenges they face.
PRRC also revealed plans to put up a multi-modal transport system there.
This project includes the resumption of the Pasig River Ferry Service and construction of an elevated railway system on the riverbanks.
The ferry services are expected to be operational again within 3 months, said the PRRC, while funds for the railway system are still being discussed.
The multi-modal transportation system will connect Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay and is expected to ease traffic congestion in EDSA by 30%.
Parks and commercial open spaces are also expected to rise along the riverbanks, according to Goitia.
He said the riverbank from Ayala Bridge to Quezon Bridge in Manila is being eyed as a leisure area similar to the Iloilo River Esplanade.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Senator Manny Pacquiao, chairman of the Senate committee on public works, to head the oversight of the Pasig River Comprehensive Development.
The rehabilitation of Pasig River, said Goita, is expected to be completed in 15 years.