New pumps eyed vs flooding in UST

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Three men walk on flooded Benavidez Park in UST as heavy rains brought by typhoon "Karding" caused flooding in Metro Manila on Aug. 11. (Photo by Michael Angelo R. Reyes/The Varsitarian)

UST OFFICIALS have bared plans to improve drainage and pumps on campus under a two-year flood management project.

The Facilities Management Office (FMO) director, Fr. Dexter Austria, O.P., said continuous road elevation around the University is causing flooding inside the University.

Aggravating the situation is the difficulty of pumping out flood waters trapped inside the campus.

“UST was built to withstand certain flooding. What happened is the roads around it were elevated… UST was unable to catch up,” Austria told the Varsitarian in an interview.

Austria said the University needs a mechanism that would ensure that flooding outside would be gone before the pumps drain flood water out of the campus.

“[In the] previous years, we saw that we need certain pumps for the water, for the internal flood of UST to get out of the campus. However, flooding around UST was massive, we cannot pump out water,” Austria said.

FMO Assistant Director Albert Surla said the existing flood management system would be retained but would have enhanced features.

The first phase of the plan calls for the installation of additional automatic pumps and flood outlets and an improved drainage system with increased capacity and new “flap gates,” Surla said.

Austria said the projected depth of the new drainage system would be four meters, as it would serve as a temporary flood water tank. Flap gates will control the withdrawal of flood water from the drainage.

The drainage will cover Tamayo, Araullo, Intramuros, Arellano and Ruano drives, and half of Osmeña and Quezon drives.

More flood outlets would also be installed along España Boulevard. These outlets will help drain flood out the University, Surla said.

The additional pumps, will also have increased pumping capacity.

The initial phase will cover half of the campus, starting from España Boulevard up to Gonzales and Ma. Guerrero drives.

Construction will last up to two years, with the start of the first phase expected in December this year.

‘Long delayed project’ 

Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy O.P. said the flood management system would “definitely push through” since it was “long overdue.”

“It has been a long, long, long delayed project of the University. We have been discussing that for the past two years but there were several modifications… not only in terms of cost but also in terms of workability,” Dagohoy said in a chance interview.

Dagohoy said the drainage system underwent a lot of research.

“Our concern is how deep would [the flood system] be— whether it is four, five or six. The engineers are still deliberating… so we will see what would be the final proposal of the engineers regarding [it],” Dagohoy said.

Construction cannot start during the rainy season so it will not coincide with numerous activities inside the campus, he said.

Challenges 

Austria said one of the challenges in the proposed drainage system is the second phase, where construction could affect some sites declared as “National Cultural Treasures.”

“It’s delicate.  There is no design yet. It will depend on the engineering design,” he said.

The second phase would cover the Santisimo Rosario Parish, the Central Seminary and the Main Building, among others.

Austria said the construction might also disrupt classes and student activities.

“There might be an impact on the aesthetics. There will be diggings. The debris will not look good,” he said.

Surla said they would find the “best way” to ensure that construction would be swift and there would be as little disruption in University operations as possible.

“We are doing our best to address this flood issue,” he said.

Austria hopes the improved flood management system will finally ease the flooding problem.

“It’s always said that one way of being a Thomasian, the nature of a Thomasian is being used to flooding… We just wait for this [flood management system] to happen and then judge if it is working or not,” Austria said.

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