Bahagi ng Magat Dam makakikitaan ng mababang water level (UNTV News)
ISABELA, Philippines — Patuloy ang mabilis na pagbaba ng water level sa Magat Dam sa probinsya ng Isabela.
Ayon sa pamunuan ng National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Dam and Reservoir Division, kung magpapatuloy ang mainit na panahon at hindi uulan ay aabot na sa critical level ang tubig sa dam sa loob lamang ng mahigit isang linggo.
“Kung tatlong araw isang metro siyam na araw gagamitin na tubig para maabot yung 160, yung power generation natin magsu-supply pa rin ng tubig para sa irrigation kaya lang hindi na kaya dahil limitado na,” pahayag ni Emmanuel Salamanca, Magat Dam Senior Engineer.
Alas-9 ng umaga kanina, nasa 166.68 ang water level sa Magat Dam, mataas lamang ng ilang metro sa critical level nito na 160 meters.
Ayon kay Salamanca, aabot sa mahigit 80-libong ektaryang sakahan ang umaasa sa patubig galing sa naturang dam mula sa 20 bayan kabilang dito ang bayan ng Alicia, Angadanan, Cabatuan, Cauayan, Luna, Naguillian, Reyna Mercedes, Ramon, San Isidro at ang Santiago City.
Dagdag pa ni Salamanca, naantala na ang planting schedule ng mga magsasaka na umaasa sa patubig na galing sa naturang dam.
Unang linggo pa lamang ng buwan ng Mayo ay dapat nakapag-handa na ang mga magsasaka sa pagtatanim subalit dahil sa kakulangan ng tubig sa dam ay nadelay ang pagtatanim nila para sa wet season.
Ayon sa tala ng NIA, naitala ang pinakababang water level sa Magat Dam noong 1991 na umabot sa 149 meters. (Grace Doctolero / Ruth Navales, UNTV News)
MANILA, Philippines — Rehabilitation efforts in Cagayan River are set to begin on Tuesday (February 2).
The project will include the dredging of sandbars and widening of the river.
The non-structure intervention is estimated to cost around P2.3 billion which will run from this year until 2025.
Relocation of affected residents near the river, such as those in Tuguegarao City, is also part of the rehabilitation.
“We have to relocate them. We are communicating with the National Housing Authority but we are setting aside parts of our budget for the relocation of those who will be affected and those who are perennially affected by the flooding,” explained Mayor Jefferson Soriano of Tuguegarao City.
Massive tree-planting activity is also another part of the long-term mitigation program to prevent future floods.
Meanwhile, the Committee on Agriculture and Food on Friday (January 29) resumed the inquiry on the massive flooding that affected areas near the Cagayan and Marikina rivers during the onslaught of tropical cyclone Ulysses last year.
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) presented their plan for the revision of Magat Dam protocol especially on releasing water.
NIA Administrator General Ricardo Visaya (Ret.) said that from the current six hours, activation of warning stations shall be done 24 hours before the pre-release of water.
This will be accompanied by the information given to the public through text messaging.
Releasing of water before the landfall of a tropical cyclone will also be carried out one day ahead to avoid massive floods in the community.
Information on the water outflow from the dam will be written in layman’s terms so that it can easily be understood and allow the community to prepare ahead of time.
Also, local government units will be required to acknowledge receipt of the warning given by the authorities.
“May mga reklamo noon na hindi daw sila na inform although the Magat River Integrated Irrigation System did their best in informing them. We would like now that when they receive our warnings or any advice, we would like this to be acknowledged by them,” Visaya said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) is also planning to create a dam safety protocol and a Committee on Dams that will monitor all dams across the country.
It is also recommending a bill that will institutionalize the Dam Safety Program of the country.
“If we now have a good enabling environment for dams, we will now be able to attract more investment,” noted Office of the Civil Defense Director Tecson John Lim.
For this initiative, the government is seeking expert advice from Engineer Roderick dela Cruz, a Filipino dam safety expert, who is based in the US where he manages around 80 dams in Southern California. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called on concerned government agencies to make “a big push” for the recovery of agriculture “food baskets” that were devastated by calamities last year to help address supply shortages and rising food costs in the country.
In a statement, Hontiveros pointed out that price control and monitoring measures are not enough to address spiking commodity prices.
“Hindi lang price control at monitoring ang mga paraan para maampat ang mabilis na pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin. Mas mabilis na bababa ang presyo ng gulay, prutas, karne at ibang pagkain kung agad matutulungan ng pamahalaan na mapuno ang mga “food baskets”. Kailangang maibalik sa normal ang kanilang productivity levels,” she said.
The senator said the government should particularly provide adequate shelter and food assistance to vital agricultural supply areas until the first harvests arrive in summer, particularly in areas like the Northern Luzon and the Bicol Region which were heavily affected by a spate of typhoons in 2020.
Citing data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Hontiveros noted that Cagayan Valley lost P2.1 billion worth of crops due to Typhoon Ulysses, along with P 5 billion damaged or destroyed infrastructure.
Likewise, the Bicol Region lost P629 million worth of crops and P2.3 billion in infrastructure, she added.
“Sinira ng mga bagyo ang mga pananim, mga alagang hayop at mismong kabahayan ng marami sa ating mga magsasaka at agricultural workers sa Northern Luzon at Bicol Region. Pinakamataas ang inflation levels sa mga lugar na iyan, ayon mismo sa Philippine Statistics Authority at marami ang walang kita at walang makain sa pangaraw-araw ngayon,” she said.
“Kailangan natin silang tulungan para sila ay muling agad makabalik sa pagtatanim, pagsasaka at pagaalaga ng mga hayop,” she added.
Hontiveros said that among the immediate actions which can be taken by the government, mostly the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Irrigation Authority (NIA), and local government units, is the repair of drainages and irrigation systems that were damaged during the floods, storms and mudflows.
The NIA, along with LGUs, should also immediately identify and develop ‘shovel-ready’ irrigation and farm repair projects which could be implemented at the soonest.
She suggested that workers for such projects be contracted via the ‘pakyaw’ system or the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) cash-for-work program which can enable the hiring of local residents, thus helping provide a livelihood to their communities.
Hontiveros likewise said that the NDRRMC can supplement the quick reaction funds (QRFs) of other agencies so greater funding may be devoted to the repair of irrigation systems, roads, and other agriculture infrastructure.
“Kailangan nating kumilos ng agaran at malakihan upang matulungan ang mga magsasaka na nagpapakain sa buong bansa. They are the key to ending this food crisis,” she said.
MANILA, Philippines – Dam Safety Expert Roderick dela Cruz suggests that the Philippines must formulate a program that will focus on the aspect of dam safety in consideration of the communities near the downstream.
With 30 years of experience, dela Cruz who is based in the United States currently works as Senior Engineering Manager at SoCal Edison, one of the largest energy companies in the US and manages over 80 dams across Southern California.
In an interview via Zoom, dela Cruz recalled that, following the onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy that devastated his hometown Hagonoy, Bulacan ten years ago, he proposed to the government to establish a national dam safety program that would regulate and facilitate the dams in the country.
“When I was writing this paper, what I noticed really was one, a lack of program in the Philippines. We do not have a standard on how we monitor, how we design and how we improve the performance of an existing dam,” he said of his article published in 2012 in The Journal of Dam Safety.
He explained that dam management is crucial and needs a high level of expertise as he compares the extent of damage a broken dam could cause which is more massive that of a nuclear plant.
“I compared the risk noong dam kumpara sa risk nung Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Sa aking pananaw mas malaki ang risk ng dam kesa sa nuclear plant [I compared the risk pose by a dam to that of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. I believe a dam poses higher risk than a nuclear (power) plant],” he said noting that the extent of the devastation of a broken dam could reach a larger number of communities than that of the nuclear plant.
“Ang question nga is bakit pinayagang hindi operate yung [My question is: Why not allow the operation of a] nuclear plant because of our concern and yet you continue to operate a lot of these major dams na hindi natin naiintindihan talaga kung ano ang magiging consequences kung saka-sakaling bumigay ang dam [without understanding the consequences when they break]?” he added.
He stressed that in the US, dams can be classified as high hazard structures when they pose a great danger to the community. Thus, a specific agency or a private firm is being tapped to manage them.
Such is the case with his company in Southern California which, despite being a private firm, operates under the regulation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
He also stressed that strict requirements and regulations for the safety and continuous operations of the dams are given utmost importance in the US.
Dela Cruz reiterated that having a dam safety program, the risk of dam breakage and destructive release of water will be prevented. It will also help protect dam structures from breaking in the event of an earthquake.
The dam safety expert also underscored that regular assessment and maintenance of dams must be conducted to prevent damage especially in consideration of the years that the dams have been operating.
“Ang isa ko ngang concern, maaari kasing ang protocol na na-establish long time ago, maaaring hindi na ngayon applicable dahil ang downstream impact mo ay nabago na [Also one of my concerns would be the protocols that have been established a long time ago may no longer be applicable due to the changes in downstream impact],” he explained.
“So those are areas that need to be evaluated para matingnan natin kung dapat ba natin baguhin ang [to determine if there is a need to change the] protocol, for what reason or for what purpose. So there needs to be a holistic approach ng [of the] assessment and evaluation of our dam based on risk,” he added.
In the Philippines, the La Mesa dam in Quezon City is the oldest (1929) followed by Ipo Dam in Bulacan (1938); Caliraya Dam in Laguna (1942); Ambuclao Dam in Benguet province (1956); Binga Dam in Itogon, Benguet (1960); Angat Dam in Bulacan (1967); Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija (1974); Magat Dam in Cagayan Valley (1982); and San Roque Dam in Pangasinan (2008).
For its part, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has assured that it is conducting regular maintenance and structural assessment in all of the dams in the country.
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