Bye bye baha? New drainage system at UST now 75% complete

December 3, 2020 - 7:47 PM
UST Main Building
The main building of University of Santo Tomas in España, Manila. (Wikimedia Commons/File photo)

The University of Santo Tomas announced that its new anti-flood system is already 75% complete.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, December 1, Fr. Dexter Austria, OP, director of UST’s Facilities Management Office attached photos of the drainage system on the post.

“Flood-free UST? Keeping our fingers crossed,” Austria said.

The same photos were reposted by UST’s official Facebook page with the caption:

“The usual perils of flooding that the Manila campus endures will soon be held at bay, as the stormwater drainage flood mitigation project of the University nears completion.”

UST has a reputation for having endured the worst floods for years due to its location.

It has become somewhat of a rite of passage for freshmen to experience the heavy rains and flooding before they graduate.

Austria described the new drainage system, a project which started in 2018, as a “game-changer” and expressed hope for a flood-free university in the near future.

“We are hoping for a flood-free campus…This project intends to pump out and drain internal flood waters of UST,” Austria told the Varsitarian, UST’s student publication.

When reports about the massive new floodway circulated on social media, students, alumni and other members of the Thomasian community welcomed it.

Screenshot by Interaksyon
Screenshot by Interaksyon

Others, meanwhile, recalled how their experiences with the flooding in UST were “life-changing” and “formative” as students.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

This drainage system would serve as a water tank that will catch storm or rainwater and then it will be released to the main sewer of the España Boulevard.

Austria noted that once operational, flooding will only be experienced if the areas surrounding UST already become submerged.

Its construction was already delayed, the director explained, citing the pandemic and strong typhoons as the main reasons.

Following the launch in 2018, they were supposed to complete it within 15 months.

Different from the previously proposed projects

In 2015, the previous administration proposed to construct a catch basin under the UST open grounds to help minimize the adverse effects of flooding and consequent traffic jams in Manila.

The UST administration rejected this proposal, citing security reasons and that certain structures to be affected are national cultural treasures.

According to Republic Act 10066 or the “National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009,” a national cultural treasure “shall not be relocated, rebuilt, defaced or otherwise changed in a manner.”

In 2013, the Department of Public Works and Highway also proposed a similar infrastructure, a retarding water tank.

This time, instead of the complex open grounds, USTFMO focused on replacing and improving the existing drainage lines within seven zones along the driveways within the campus.

The brief description of the project on UST’s website reads:

“The project will replace the existing drainage lines with a new drainage system and provide detention facilities to accommodate floodwater within the 21.5-hectare campus. The improvement is being done as a response to the restrictions posed by the current system and the observed increase in rain and floodwaters plaguing the campus during the rainy season.”

The seven zones are:

Zone A – Araullo Drive (facing the Quadricentennial Pavilion, España side) and Roque Ruaño Drive (facing the Roque Ruaño and Albertus Magnus Buildings)

Zone B – Arellano Drive (facing the Parade Grounds, España side) and Tamayo Drive (facing the Beato Angelico and Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P. Buildings)

Zone C – Osmeña Drive (in between the Parade Grounds and Benavides Garden)

Zone D – Quezon Drive (in between the Benavides Garden and Multi-Deck Carpark and Quadricentennial Pavilion)

Zone E – Leon Ma. Guerrero Drive (in between the Multi-Deck Carpark and Health Service) and Ceferino Gonzales Alley Drive (in front of the Santísimo Rosario Parish Church)

Zone F – Ceferino Gonzales Drive (driveway leading to the A.H. Lacson Gate) and Intramuros Drive (fronting the Arch of the Centuries)

Zone G – Leon Maria Guerrero Drive (fronting the Hospital)