Friday, October 02, 2009

"The floods are not an act of god...

... they were caused by man's inaction."

And with those lines Arch. Jun Palafox stole the show at the executive briefing on the environment headlined by former congressman and current senatoriable Dr. Neric Acosta, author of the Clean Air Act. Before Ondoy hit, the briefing was supposed to highlight ecolabeling and the "Green Choice" seal but given the situation, the people's interests were piqued by what the urban planner had to say. And while the speakers and reactors generally kept to the topic, the issue du jour was Ondoy and global warming.

Acosta showed simulations of areas that will be flooded should the ice caps melt and the sea level rise by 12 meters, quipping "what the opposition cannot do, global warming will." In his computer simulations Malacanang will be buried underwater. "Unfortunately, congress is on high ground" [rimshot].

But on to Palafox's presentation, which wasn't part of the program (he spoke during the open forum) but shut a roomful of CEOs and government officials up because it was really very interesting.

In the 70s, he said, when they were planning Metro Manila, the geological surveys suggested the creation of several floodways that are supposed to divert water runoff to larger bodies of water. Manggahan floodway leads all the water to Laguna Lake, while the proposed Paranaque spillway was supposed to run to Manila Bay. Palafox did not elaborate why but the spillway was never built, hence the water has little recourse but to spill over to the streets, which, being parallel to the waterways, served as alternate channels.

But then the conversation turned to carbon credits and greenwashing and other topics. Which was only fair. But given what most of us learned that morning, I'm sure everyone would spare another morning listening to what Palafox has to say further.

* * * * *

EDIT: To add this link to the Inquirer interview.

If he were to redesign Metro Manila, Palafox said he would take a “big eraser” and wipe out parts of Metro Manila in the east, north and south, where development did not conform to standards, particularly the construction of housing below the flood lines. “Government knows what the flood lines are. Why did developers of subdivisions allow construction of housing projects below the flood lines?” he asked.

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