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PAGASA: Angat has enough reserves to supply La Mesa

Located in Norzagaray, Bulacan, the Angat Dam is a concrete water reservoir embankment hydroelectric dam that supplies the Manila metropolitan area water. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines (Philippines News Agency) — Angat Dam could still feed the La Mesa Dam until late May when the wet season is expected to start, ensuring sufficient water supply for Metro Manila.

Angat Dam has enough reserves to cover increased water supply for Metro Manila on top of its normal allocation for irrigation and power production, said hydrologist Richard Orendain of the state weather bureau, PAGASA.

"Reserve in Angat can last this summer," Orendain said.

Angat's water level at 6 a.m. on Friday was at 197.06 meters, still sufficient for the dam's purposes.

According to authorities, water in Angat Dam flows to Ipo Dam, then goes to Bicti and passes through aqueducts on the way to La Mesa Dam.

La Mesa Dam's management has reported that water in this facility is dipping fast due to increased withdrawal for Metro Manila's use amid the prevailing hot weather.

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La Mesa headworks manager Teddy Angeles said he hopes the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) could raise the facility's water allocation from Angat Dam.

"Some six million people depend on La Mesa Dam for their water supply," he noted.

NWRB Executive Director Sevillo David Jr. said the agency is studying the La Mesa Dam management's request for additional water allocation.

"We'll increase the allocation for La Mesa if needed," he said earlier.

Orendain said Angat Dam is releasing water at the rate of 61 cubic meters per second (cms) for irrigation, power production and Metro Manila's use.

"The total allocation may be increased to 65 cms so La Mesa could get more water for Metro Manila this summer," he said.

This means authorities concerned may raise Angat's present supply of 46 cms to about 50 cms to better meet Metro Manila's water demand.

The increase in allocation may bring Angat Dam's water to the minimum operating level (MOL) of 180 meters by early June, he said.

Authorities consider the MOL critical since the government suspends the release of Angat water for irrigation once the dam's reserves reach this level to sustain supply for Metro Manila.

Orendain however remains optimistic about rain-fed Angat Dam's water prospects, saying PAGASA expects no delay in the onset of this year's rainy season.

"The wet season will likely commence around late May so we expect Angat to receive rain and recover," he said.

PAGASA's latest outlook indicates near-normal rainfall at the Angat watershed from May to September this year.

Mean rainfall can reach 193.0 mm. in May, 265.8 mm. (June), 364.6 mm. (July), 376.0 mm. (August) and 397.2 mm. (September).

Authorities nonetheless continue to call for water conservation so reserves for Metro Manila could last longer.

"Use water wisely," said David, adding that doing so would help curb rapid loss of water at the La Mesa Dam.

Angeles likewise urged the public to report water leaks and illegal water connections so authorities could address them accordingly.

He also suggested storing rainwater, which could be used for cleaning yards and other purposes that do not require potable water.

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