Cloud seeding conducted over three dams

Ding Cervantes - The Philippine Star
Cloud seeding conducted over three dams
After heavy rains last night La Mesa dam increased point ten (.10) in water elevation. Photo shows controller change the water elevation from 68.45 to 68.55
Boy Santos

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga , Philippines  —  An aircraft commissioned by the Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) has started cloud-seeding operations over three dams to create artificial rain and increase the water level in the facilities.

The BSWM, which is under the Department of Agriculture, reported that cloud seeding was done over the Ipo, La Mesa and Angat dams on Tuesday.

The dams supply the water needs of Metro Manila and irrigate rice fields in Central Luzon.

The BSWM used a BN-2 Islander aircraft in the cloud-seeding operations.

The aircraft took off from the Plaridel airport in Bulacan with 25 sacks of iodized salt, according to BSWM project officer Mary Joy David.

Despite heavy rains in Metro Manila and parts of Bulacan on Wednesday night, officials said Angat Dam’s water level continued to drop.

The provincial disaster risk reduction management office of Bulacan monitored the water elevation in Angat Dam at 174.78 meters yesterday, way below its 180 meters critical mark.

Sevillo David Jr., executive director of the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), said the dam’s water level dipped slightly from 175.10 meters on Wednesday.

 “We have to wait for the next few days to know if the rains and cloud seeding would help increase the water in Angat Dam,” David said.  

The NWRB said it would temporarily stop irrigation supply to rice plantations in Bulacan and Pampanga effective May 16 as the water level in the dams continued to drop.

Ted Elipio, division manager of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Angat-Umiray Transbasin Operations, said the situation was worse in 2010 when the dam’s level dropped to only 157 meters.

Manila Water said the intermittent rains in the past days as a result of thunderstorms are not enough to refill La Mesa and Angat dams.

Jeric Sevilla, Manila Water group head for corporate strategic affairs, said the situation may get worse.

“The rains are not sufficient to refill La Mesa Dam to its normal operating level of 78 to 79 meters,” he said.

Sevilla said the water in La Mesa Dam was at 68.55 meters on Wednesday, which is below its critical level of 69.

End of dry season seen

 Rains that caused floods in parts of Metro Manila on Wednesday were an indication of the dry season’s looming end, the state weather bureau said.

Robert Sawi, weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the rains were caused by a frontal system or boundary between air masses with different temperatures, which enhanced the two low-pressure areas over Philippine waters.

“This is a sign that the rainy season is coming. We expect that almost every day, there will be rains,” he said.  

The state weather bureau said rains would continue to affect Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

“Thunderstorms are likely to continue within the week, especially in the afternoon or evening,” PAGASA weather forecaster Jamaila Garrido said.

PAGASA issued advisories warning residents of thunderstorms in Metro Manila and other areas.

The frontal system is affecting Central and Southern Luzon, the weather bureau said.  –  With Ramon Efren Lazaro, Rhodina Villanueva

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