Enhanced flooding in Metro Manila: Water rising, ground sinking according to scientists

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Flooded areas brought by the heavy downpour in the past few days left traffic at a standstill along major roads in Metro Manila.

Could Metro Manila be sinking?

Possibly, scientists are saying that over-pumping of groundwater can cause some areas to sink 5 to 6 centimeters yearly.

“Ang pagkuha ng sobrang tubig, the faster that it can’t be replenished.. ang lupa naging compact which causes subsidence,” said Narod Eco of University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman National Institute of Geological Sciences.

Land subsidence or sinking can produce higher tides that reach farther inland and floods that recede more slowly.

For cities in Metro Manila - Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela - areas are sinking fast, reason why flood waters rise and flow inland quickly.

Areas in Muntinlupa and nearby provinces like Cavite, Pampanga, Bulacan and Laguna are also sinking because most of their soil is made of clay.

If the sinking continues, what could be the worst case scenario?

“In 10 to 20 years most likely mga lugar na coastal areas ngayon maging permanently underwater like sa Venice,” said Eco.

Climate change is making problems worse. As the world's glaciers melt and oceans expand, water levels are rising.

Manila Bay is now higher than Manila, which has areas that are already below sea level.

A World Bank study showed that sea level will rise at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years.

Robert Marin, an engineer and inventor, suggested building a dam at the mouth of Manila Bay to stop the rise of its water level. The dam would convert the bay into a lake and prevent high tide from affecting nearby areas.

Scientists urge big businesses, fish pond owners and households to stop using groundwater to prevent further land sinking.

And unless officials actually carry out plans from the drawing board, getting stranded in traffic and wading through waist-deep floods during the rainy season may just be the new norm.