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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Unabated quarry endangers irrigation facilities

Over a hundred irrigation projects in danger from unabated sand and gravel quarry

MANILA – The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has sounded its alarm as their essential facilities are at risk due to unabated sand and gravel extractions across the country.

In a statement, NIA said these quarry sites operate close to irrigation facilities and structures which may lead to the exposure of the foundation, scour riverbanks and degrade river beds.

The structures in danger of destruction are located in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur where the Padada River Irrigation System has been in operation. It was learned the diversion dam had its sheet piles exposed and its foundation threatened because of severe erosion because of unregulated quarrying activities downstream.

Incidentally, the relocated diversion dam of Sta. Cruz River Irrigation System in Liliw, Laguna is threatened by severe erosion. The original dam, about 800 meters downstream, was totally damaged in 2006.

“These are not isolated cases but rather a nationwide occurrence. There are 116 irrigation systems/projects affected by quarrying nationwide,” the NIA statement disclosed.

It was learned quarry operators are excavating more than the prescribed one-meter extraction-depth limit, excessive quarrying, including those of river boulders which limit speed of river flow, leading to the diversion of the river course and a steeper river slope which cause rapid erosion of riverbanks as well as the coverage of the quarrying area are not effectively marked and delineated using high and conspicuous markers all poses negative effects in irrigation projects nationwide.

In Iloilo, the Regional Project Monitoring Committee chaired by NEDA reported the Sibalom River Irrigation System, thagt on July 9,2021, the diversion dam is in danger of being severely damaged due to intensive and improper quarrying within one kilometer downstream. The project’s seal and concrete blocks are eroded as the riverbed fell by a meter. The NIA technical survey recommended that the quarry area should be 2.8-kilometer away downstream of the diversion dam to allow for the river basis to return to its original elevation and protect existing irrigation structures.

NIA called on the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to strictly enforce existing rules and regulations as it called for support for their Regional Project Monitoring and Evaluation System (RPMES) for the safeguard and protection of existing facilities and the preservation of the river system supporting irrigation projects.

NIA also called for the review of Section 79. [a] of DAO No. 2020-21 (Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act. No. 7942 “Philippine Mining Act of1995” for further studies for the appropriate delineation of the radius of prohibited quarry areas adjacent to public infrastructure as set forth in Section 79. [a] of DAO No. 2020-2021.

NIA Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya said they are doing their best to address the farmers’ concern on the possibility of losing irrigation public to farmer stakeholders and damage to public property. (Melo M. Acuña)

File photo of irrigation facilities. (National Irrigation Administration photos)

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