CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – A public works official said Friday that the Arayat-Apalit setback levee needs outright repair to save thousands of residents and properties in Arayat and neighboring towns including this city.

Engineer Philip Meñez, director of major flood control and drainage projects of the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH), said the portion of Guemasan Dike in Arayat is crucial and if not properly addressed by the government, may cause unprecedented destruction to the entire province.

“Kapag tuluyang napigtas ang dike dito sa Guemasan, mag-iiba na ang takbo ng tubig sa Pampanga River. Maaring tamaan ang mga bayan ng Sta. Ana, Mexico, Sto. Tomas at maging ang siyudad ng San Fernando,” Meñez said.

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Menez made the disclosure as he joined the ocular inspection of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) headed by chairman and Regional Police Director Alan Purisima, Governor Lilia Pineda and the Pampanga Mayors League headed by Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo.

The group inspected the river traversing Arayat, Candaba, San Luis, San Simon and Apalit municipalities.

He said Arayat is only being protected by the setback levee and has no dike, like Arnedo, that serves as first line of defense.

Meñez told Pineda the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) loan amounting to P77 million intended for the additional construction of the slope protection and spur dikes in the Guemasan section of the Arayat setback levee is now under regular bidding of the DPWH central office, which is expected to be finished by September 13 this year.

The dredging of the original cut-off-channel proposed by Pineda on the other side of the river in Barangay Guemasan, which has been “developed by nature” into an isle due to accretion was favored by Meñez as he noted it is the logical solution to the problem.

He said the DPWH could start dredging the original water channel using the water master dredger of the agency while the Capitol, with the approval of the governor, could provide for the gasoline of the dredging equipment.

The establishment of a mound dike parallel to the Arayat setback levee, which will serve as a second line of defense -- should scouring persists at the said levee -- was also agreed by both officials of the DPWH and the Provincial Government. (Herbert P. Mapiles)