The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) was confronted by a dilemma of dam if you do, dam if you don’t insofar as releasing water from the Magat Dam was concerned.
Since last Saturday, the NIA opted to release water from the Magat Dam to avoid overfilling and breaking the infrastructure.
In the process however, several downstream areas in the provinces of Ifugao, Isabela, and Cagayan remained inundated with no relief yet on sight even as tropical storm has Paeng already left the country.
Incessant rains precipitated by Paeng have reportedly filled the Magat Dam to overcapacity.
“Dito po sa probinsya ng Cagayan talagang matagal humupa ang tubig. It would take two to three days or even more, depende po yun. ‘Pagnag-release po ulit ang Magat, mas matatagalan po. It can cost almost a week,” said Cagayan Vice Governor Boy Vargas.
“As of kahapon, mayroong two gates na nag-release sila. Sana po di na sila mag-release,” he added.
The NIA explained that the gates of the dam remained open, sending water into the Magat River, as the dam is currently at critical level.
But should the weather continue to clear up, the NIA said it will stop the release of water supply by Friday, November 4.
“Calculated po ‘yung pag-release natin, ‘wag lang po masira ‘yung structure to avoid a bigger disaster. It is gradual release of water although meron pa rin pong konting pagbaha pero manageable po sya,” said NIA Administrator Benny Antiporda.
Apart from dredging, he said, the NIA is also eyeing constructing “stoppers” in the reservoir to help in storing water and in minimizing its release to the nearby communities.
“Roll-out siya next year, ‘yan ang target natin. Di lang ‘yung stopper dam pati ‘yung major dams natin,” he added.
To recall, the protocols for releasing water in Magat Dam were revised following the massive flooding in Cagayan due to the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses in 2020.
Under the revised Magat Dam Protocol on Dam Discharge and Flood Warning Operation, the operator of the reservoir and PAGASA should maintain coordination during typhoons.
Warning stations should also be activated 24 hours before the release. Nearby communities should also be alerted through text blasts sent to the public and the affected local government should respond that they have received the advisory. Further, the dam should only release supply if its water level reaches 190 meters above sea level and if an approaching typhoon is forecast
to hit Cordillera Administrative Region and Regions 1, 2, and 3 in two to four days