Flood coming? Let’s dig ponds and make lakes

Here’s an apparently serious proposal to solve the perennial flooding problem of Metro Manila.

For what it’s worth, I think the solution – to dig ponds and lakes – is plain silly and possibly even useless. It sounds good if you think of planning a beautiful community with artificial lakes, etc.  It also reminds me of that grade school catechism story about St. Augustine at the beach which was partly about digging holes in the sand.  Nonetheless, the solution won’t work.

Let’s do some thinking.

If you’re at sea level, just like the US Embassy at Roxas Blvd., the flood is a natural result of the proximity of the sea. Go dig a huge goldfish pond anywhere on Luneta Park and you won’t fix the flood problem at all.  The author even says that government should excavate low-lying areas and turn them into lakes. What he should perhaps say is that no one should live in low-lying areas, because, once you excavate, even just a few feet, you will hit the water table!  The reality, however, is that people take risks, find ways to manage them, and adjust. Think of Venice and its canals. Can you imagine suggesting ‘catch basins’ to the city fathers there?

If you’re inland, flooding is always near the waterways. Again, digging holes nearby won’t solve the problem. Of course, the sensible alternative is widening the waterways and building up the land at the margin of the waterways, but this is expensive. What is somewhat less expensive is giving folks incentives not to live near the waterways (this is perhaps mainly a squatter problem), and to address drainage problems (this is a law enforcement problem on the maintenance of drain sewers and on garbage disposal).

But if the land is elevated enough, or far enough away from a waterway, digging holes won’t prevent flooding that is not even likely to happen.

From the comment thread at rappler.com, it seems however that enough folks are convinced that digging holes at sea level is a solution. What gives?





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