Provincial Government of Bulacan

Bulacan Gov. Fernando appeals to NIA: “Act quickly to ensure Bustos Dam safety.”

CITY OF MALOLOS – “I will do everything in my power to safeguard the Bulakenyos from imminent harm by ensuring the safety of Bustos dam. I am appealing to the national government for help. It is now critical to reassess our path forward to ensure that our dams and levees in the province continue to meet stringent standards of safety.”

Bulacan Governor Fernando made the assurance early today, as he led a team of officials from the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), executive officers from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Agriculture, Engineering and Provincial Administrator’s Office for an ocular inspection of Bustos Dam in the wake of the recent collapse of the rubber gate at Bay 5.

The damage was allegedly due to the inferior quality of materials used by NIA’s contractor in the said dam’s rehabilitation project. In 2017, the rubber gate in Bay 3 was also replaced after a barge hit it and gave way due to the low quality of materials used.

“We will never take for granted the inferior quality materials used in the rehabilitation of Bustos Dam. Ipaglalaban po natin na kahit isa lang sa rubber gate ang nasira, tiyakin sana ng NIA ang kaayusan ng anim na sector gates ng Bustos Dam at agad na palitan ito nang napagkasunduang materyales ayon sa kontrata,” the Governor said.

Earlier in 2016, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and NIA discussed the funding for the rehabilitation and repair of Bustos Dam wherein the estimated cost of one billion pesos was enough to cover all the expenses for the project including (a) repair of the diversion dam – replacement of 6 bays rubber gates and improvement of apron, training walls and gates, repair and improvement of Main and Lateral Canals and its appurtenant structures, and improved operation and maintenance and support services. However, the rubber gate on Bay 5 collapsed in the first week of May, just two years after it was installed.

Bustos Dam was constructed in 1926 with a service area of 25,000 hectares.
It was improved in 1967 by installing six steel sector gates increasing the elevation from 15 meters to 17.50 meters thus increasing the service to 31,500 hectares but then, the steel gates became totally not operational come year 1990.

In 1997, with a grant from Japan, the steel gates were replaced with rubber gates becoming the first rubber dam in the country. However, holes began to appear on the rubber gates in 2007 and NIA got the opinion of experts from Bridgestone Company, which recommended another replacement but did not push through because of lack of funding. Instead, remedial measures such as regular maintenance and other temporary improvements were done to ensure that irrigation supply will not be disrupted and are able to continuously serve the farmers with irrigation.

Recently, Gov. Daniel Fernando also summoned NIA officials to an emergency meeting at his Official Residence to assess the current situation on the rehabilitation of Bustos Dam. The governor said he would order the creation of a Technical Working Committee on dam safety in order for these structures to continue to meet standards of safety to serve and protect our communities. ###