To put an end to the region’s perennial flood problems, the Cagayan Valley Regional Development Council (RDC 2) approved the measures presented by NEDA 2 in its report entitled, “Cagayan Valley Flood Mitigation and Rehabilitation Program”. The report was presented to the Council during the 118th RDC Meeting on December 17, 2020 held in Ilagan City, Isabela.

RDC 2 Chair and Isabela Governor Rodolfo T. Albano III lauded NEDA 2 and the agencies involved in the two task groups namely; Structural Task Group led by the Department of Public Works and Highways Region 2 and Non-structural/Vegetative Task Group led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 2 for coming up with the needed measures in a short period of time.

Gov. Albano stressed the need to prioritize the dredging of the Cagayan River. However, he also recognized the limited resources and environmental issues involved.

“We need to pool our resources to purchase a bigger dredging machine that will show significant results in 1-2 months. Of course, we also need to identify funding and the place to dump the dredged soil.”, he added.

NEDA 2 Regional Director Dionisio C. Ledres, Jr.  presented the major factors contributing to the flooding. Top of the list are the shallow portions of Cagayan River due to heavy siltation, loss of forest cover and the constricted sections at the lower Cagayan River called the Magapit Narrows. The mentioned Magapit narrows runs from the municipalities of Alcala, Gattaran and Lallo in Cagayan, three of the municipalities that are often flooded every time the river swells to dangerous levels.

To address these contributory factors, flood mitigation and rehabilitation strategies were identified and grouped into structural, vegetative and other measures. The structural measures include river dredging, channel widening and realignment to accelerate the flow of water downstream. Riverbank protection structures will also be built to address high erosion in 73 sites along the river. These sites are found in municipalities in Cagayan, Isabela and the whole province of Nueva Vizcaya where the Magat river runs.

The vegetative measures emphasize the need to establish green zones along the river and the strengthening of the National Greening Program to rehabilitate vegetation around the basin.  These are intended to address excessive erosion resulting to the heavy siltation and shallowing of the Cagayan River. Other measures include improvement of flood forecasting and warning, researches on flooding, among others.

The risk of flooding brought about by the swelling of the Cagayan River has been recognized in as early as the 1980’s. Several flood control and development plans as well as river management studies have been formulated. The first study was conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 1987. Several other studies were produced through the years with the recent one this 2020 conducted by Dr. Fernando Siringan and commissioned by the Municipal Government of Alcala.