“We expect more rains come July and we expect the water level at Angat to gradually increase at that time,” Esperanza Cayanan, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)’s weather division, said at a press conference.
Andy G. Zapata Jr
Rains to fill Angat Dam next month
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - June 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Residents of Metro Manila and nearby areas must continue saving water as rains from the southwest monsoon that could normalize the supply in Angat Dam in Bulacan will not arrive until next month.

“We expect more rains come July and we expect the water level at Angat to gradually increase at that time,” Esperanza Cayanan, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)’s weather division, said at a press conference.

Cayanan added that the occurrence of two to three tropical cyclones would also help Angat’s water level rise back to its minimum operating level of 180 meters.

As of 6 a.m. yesterday, Angat dam’s water level dipped further to 162.39 meters.

The dam supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s water needs.

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) warned yesterday of possible reduction of the approved water allocation to Metro Manila at 46 cubic meter per second once the dam’s water level dips below the low-level mark of 160 meters.

Cayanan said July, August and September are normally the wettest months of the year.

PAGASA administrator Vicente Malano said even with the prevailing weak El Niño, they still expect a normal number of tropical cyclones this year.

About 19 to 20 cyclones visit the country every year.

But Malano warned that tropical cyclones are usually intense during El Niño years. 

The El Niño phenomenon, which triggered drought and dry spells in many areas in the past months, is likely to last up to November this year, according to PAGASA.

‘New normal’

Malano said the country may also experience intense rains as heavy as that brought by Tropical Storm Ondoy (international name Ketsana) in September 2009.

Ondoy, which occurred during an El Niño year, dumped heavy rains for a day, which inundated Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

“The occurrence of intense rain is the new normal now because of global warming,” Malano warned.

NWRB executive director Sevillo David assured the public that several measures will be undertaken to manage the remaining water, including the operationalization of the Angat Dam Low Level Outlet (LLO), the bottom channel capable of releasing water below 160 meters.

“We have started to subject to tests and rehabilitate this LLO since March. It showed that we have manageable water quality here,” he added.

This LLO was last used in July 2010 when an El Niño condition was experienced in the country, where the lowest water level recorded was 163.09 meters.

Cloud-seeding operations will also be conducted as well as reactivating the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) deep wells, David said.

David also said a reduction of the 46 cubic meter per second allocation to MWSS may be made once the water level dips below 160 meters.

East zone concessionaire Manila Water Co. Inc. warned its consumers of interruptions in the next days.

“As Angat level goes down, release to the concessionaires is reduced and there will be impact on service rotation, but it does not mean that there will be no water totally,” Manila Water president and CEO Ferdinand dela Cruz said at a briefing on Monday.

Manila Water assured its consumers that interruptions will be managed efficiently and will not be at peak hours.

Farmers’ lament

Based on the latest report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, drought and dry spell damage to agriculture has reached P7.96 billion affecting 247,610 farmers.

As this developed, peasant groups urged government agencies and local government units to respond to the demands of farmers affected by El Niño’s damage in agricultural production.

The groups including peasant women from Occidental Mindoro, Bicol and Eastern Visayas lamented the lack of government support.

“With very limited irrigation facilities, farmers are left with nothing but barren lands,” said Zenaida Soriano, Amihan chair.

Samahang Magsasaka ng Kanlurang Mindoro and Samahang Kababaihang Magsasaka sa Mindoro noted the provincial government’s declaration of state of calamity last April, with damage in agriculture reaching P275 million.

According to Samahan Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas, farmers have not yet recovered from the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda as they suffered crop infestation. – With Rhodina Villanueva, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Louise Maureen Simeon 

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