MANILA, Philippines – Water level at the Laguna Lake is nearing the water level during the height of tropical storm “Ondoy” in 2009, which triggered severe flooding in nearby cities.
Secretary Neric Acosta, general manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), on Thursday said the lake's water level reached 13.8 meters after nonstop rains since Monday.
Water level during Ondoy was at 13.95 meters.
“It’s really reached its peak in a manner of measuring the overall lake level,” Acosta told ANC’s “Prime Time.”
LLDA is currently assessing the situation at lakeshore localities to ensure residents’ safety.
Torrential downpour in the past several days caused massive floods in lakeside towns, including Biñan, Cabuyao, Calamba, Los Banos, San Pedro and Sta. Rosa.
The residents have been evacuated due to the floods.
According to Acosta, floods in lakeside towns do not easily subside, noting that it took more than a month for floods caused by Ondoy to subside.
Acosta said affected families are not advised to return to their homes yet despite an improvement in weather conditions on Thursday.
“They can’t go back to their homes right away. That’s just the reality of lake. We’re making sure people are safe and early warnings are implemented,” he said.
Acosta said an P18.5 billion dredging project to deepen Laguna Lake, which was disapproved by President Benigno Aquino III, is still “under arbitration.”
But Acosta said he does not believe that dredging alone will prevent the rising of water level at the silted lake during torrential rains.
Acosta said the problem needs “a more comprehensive solution.”
“Dredging is only a part of a larger set of solutions, while it does increase the holding capacity of any body of water if you take out heavily-silted parts of the lake, the heavy deforested areas in Rizal and lower Sierra Madre that flow into the Marikina River bring in silt. So siltation and erosion are very frequent occurrences,” he said.
Acosta said other factors, including deforestation and the relocation of settlement areas around the lake, should be considered in addressing the ecosystem problem of the Laguna Lake.