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DENR starts dredging Cagayan River for flood prevention, ports rehabilitation

A swan boat from Baguio City ferries around children near the Cagayan River in Anquiray in Amulung, Cagayan on November 20, 2020, more than a week after floods brought by Typhoon Ulysses inundated parts of the province. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has begun dredging the Cagayan River in a bid to prevent flooding, seen in unprecedented levels last year, and rehabilitate ports, the agency said Saturday. 

In a statement, DENR noted that the dredging project seeks to clear an 8-kilometer navigational channel and reopen the Aparri port, which they said has not been operational for over 10 years. 

It also seeks to deepen Cagayan River to 12 meters from its current depth of 4 meters “to significantly improve the river flow from the upstream portion,” the agency added. 

“Consequently, it will prevent or minimize the likelihood of flooding in areas along its path covering the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Isabela, and Cagayan," Cimatu was quoted as saying. 

"This forms part of the… administration's program to rehabilitate the country’s important vital river systems in disaster prevention while restoring their importance as vehicles of progress to the country’s economy.” 

In an inspection earlier, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said 19 sandbars would also have to be removed, while 3 sandbars would need immediate dredging. 

A sandbar is a raised area of sand in a body of water, especially rivers. 

The 3 sandbars, covering 235 hectares, are blocking flood water flow to the Aparri Delta draining to the Babuyan Channel, the DPWH said.

The sandbar removal will be finished by August or the end of the year, according to Cimatu.

The dredging started on June 25 in cooperation with the Great River North Consortium and Riverfront Construction. The firm is also tasked to maintain the economic waterway.

Local government officials had blamed the heavily silted Cagayan River, heavy rainfall from Typhoon Ulysses, and water released from dams for the massive floods that submerged Cagayan province in November last year, leaving at least 9 dead

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba, meanwhile, said that siltation of the river caused the riverbed to get shallower over the years.

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