San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is gearing up to clean and widen Pasig River with the arrival of two new dredging equipment capable of pulling 600,000 tons of silt and solid waste out of its waters per year for the next five years.
“Through the years, Pasig River has become narrower and shallower because of accumulated silt and waste. By cleaning and widening it, we will be able to increase its capacity to keep water flowing within its banks especially during heavy rains,” SMC president Ramon S. Ang said.
SMC, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and other concerned government units, is targeting to extract 50,000 tons of waste per month from the river.
“After a thorough assessment of Pasig River, we identified sections where the depth of water has been reduced to as little as one meter. These are the most critical portions of the river that cause widespread flooding,”Ang said.
He added that for the Pasig to effectively serve its purpose of channeling flood waters out to the Manila Bay, its depth should at least be 10 meters. “But garbage and silt over the many decades have reduced this to just one meter in these areas, clogging the river and causing water to overflow everywhere,” Ang explained.
Currently, SMC is already undertaking a major river cleanup—its five-year, P1 billion corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative to dredge and clean up the 27-kilometer Tullahan-Tinajeros River System. which benefits other flood-prone areas such as Malabon and Navotas.
Launched in early 2020, with work only fully commencing following the lifting of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the project is seen to help solve flooding in Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Caloocan, Quezon City, as well as Bulacan province, for the long-term.
At the end of 2020, SMC reported it extracted a total of 83,600 metric tons of garbage and silt from the section of the river located in Malabon and Navotas. SMC has since committed to put in more resources and acquire more heavy machinery for the effort.
During the series of typhoons that hit Luzon and Metro Manila towards the end 2020, both flood-prone cities reported no major flooding incidents despite increased water volume. This is largely seen as the combined result of having effective pumping stations and the ongoing Tullahan cleanup by SMC.
“We have had considerable experience in cleaning up rivers, primarily because of Tullahan, and also our successful initiatives to clean up rivers below Skyway 3. and are even putting in more resources and buying more equipment for the Tullahan initiative. We are also looking to do this for rivers in Bulacan. Naturally, cleaning up the Pasig River is a big goal that we do not take lightly,” Ang said.
“There have been many noteworthy efforts that have been initiated in the past, in order to rehabilitate the Pasig river. Unfortunately, it has always been a very costly undertaking. Now that San Miguel has a chance to help, we will give it our all,” he added.