Magat Dam now required to provide 24-hour warning before releasing water, NIA says

THE National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said Wednesday that it revised the operating procedures for Magat Dam in Ifugao and Isabela provinces, requiring its administrators to provide 24-hour warning before releasing water as a precaution against future flooding, after large parts of the Cagayan Valley were left under water in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco) in November.

“Warning stations will be activated 24 hours before the preemptive release of water from the Magat Dam, coupled with a public announcement through text blast. An acknowledgement from the affected local government unit (LGU) will also be required three hours after the public announcement of the preemptive release,” NIA said in a statement announcing the release of revised protocols for the dam’s operators.

The protocols authorize the release of water from the dam once its water level hits 190 meters above sea level, or when a typhoon is expected to make landfall within four days in the Cordillera Autonomous Region and Regions I, II and III.

“Concerned government agencies and stakeholders such as the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council), Philippine National Police (PNP), LGUs, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Irrigators’ Associations (IAs), mainstream and local media, and the locals, will also be informed of the preemptive release at least three times,” the NIA said.

NIA said it hopes to improve coordination with the government weather service, known as PAGASA, in gauging typhoon landfalls and forecasts of rainfall intensity.

In the same statement, the NIA said it will sit on the NDRRMC’s National Dam Safety Committee, which is in the process of being organized.

Last month, the NIA said the flooding in the Cagayan Valley in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses was not caused solely by Magat Dam water releases, noting that storm Vicky (international name: Krovanh) also caused flooding.

“The inflow and outflow (due to Typhoon Vicky) experienced on Dec. 19, 2020 is lesser (than) half that of Typhoon Ulysses. Yet, even without spillage from the Magat Dam, flooding was experienced in portions of Cagayan,” the NIA said in a statement issued on Jan. 6. — Angelica Y. Yang

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