Farms assured of more water from Angat Dam
FARMERS in Bulacan and Pampanga who rely on the Angat Dam for their irrigation needs may be able to plant their crops for the dry season as authorities lifted a close-tap policy for releasing water for non-domestic use.
Ironically, this was mainly due to Typhoon “Lando” which, in October, devastated the country’s main rice-growing region and ravaged billions worth of palay—some of which were ready for harvest.
Jorge M. Estioko, deputy executive director of the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), said in an interview the agency was again allowing the release of Angat water at 15 cubic meters per second (cms) for farm use.
“Conditions in Angat improved because of the rains that Lando brought as well as the more recent downpours within the Angat watershed,” Estioko said.
Monitoring by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the water level at Angat as of 6 a.m. of Nov. 28 was pegged at 208.17 meters above sea level (masl).
This was 3.83 masl lower than the 212 masl that the government as well as water service providers hoped to have by the end of this year.
However, Estioko said the current level was about 2 masl higher than the level recorded in Angat one year ago.
“Because of that, the NWRB has lifted the zero allocation of water from Angat for irrigation purposes,” the official said, referring to a policy that had been in effect as early as May when the level went below 180 masl.
According to the National Irrigation Authority, farms in Central Luzon that have access to irrigation services totaled 77,000 hectares as of Aug. 15. Of these, 22,000 hectares are dependent on water from Angat.
These farms receive water directly from the much smaller Bustos Dam, also in Bulacan. When water level in Bustos gets too low, supply is augmented with allocation from Angat.
Estioko said the normal allocation of irrigation water from Angat was 25 cms to 27 cms.
Also, the NWRB has increased the allocation for domestic use to 40 cms in December from 38 cms in November.
In normal times, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System gets 43 cms for the use of concessionaires Manila Water Company Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc.
“Despite the increase in allocation, the concessionaires have agreed to maintain their supply management schemes,” Estioko said. “The El Niño is still strengthening and we still need to be vigilant.”
To manage their supplies, Manila Water and Maynilad are reducing water pressure in some parts of their concession areas—particularly in elevated locales—at night during off-peak hours of consumption.
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