‘Protocol for dam operations could stem water crisis’

Ramon Efren Lazaro - The Philippine Star
�Protocol for dam operations could stem water crisis�
On the lack of national dam protocol, Alvarado cited the Angat-Umiray transbasin tunnel that is supposed to augment the water supply of the Angat watershed reservoir.
KJ Rosales

MALOLOS , Philippines  —  The water crisis currently being experienced in Metro Manila could have been minimized or averted outright had there been a protocol governing the operation of dams, Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy Alvarado said Wednesday.

Other factors leading to the water crisis felt in Metro Manila include the unaccounted one-half of water allocation coming from Angat Dam due to illegal connections, he said.

This is aside from the deforestation of the Angat and Ipo watersheds, Alvarado said.

He said at least 12,000 hectares of Angat have been affected and more than half of the 6,600 hectares of Ipo were denuded by illegal loggers.

On the lack of national dam protocol, Alvarado cited the Angat-Umiray transbasin tunnel that is supposed to augment the water supply of the Angat watershed reservoir.

He said the tunnel is being used during the rainy season instead for water augmentation of the reservoir during the dry season.

This resulted in spillage of the excess water of the Angat, Ipo and Bustos Dam water reservoirs going to Manila Bay during the rainy season.

Alvarado said the spillage of excess water leads to the flooding of Calumpit, Hagonoy and nearby towns.

If there is a national dam protocol, Alvarado said the excess water can be diverted and used during the dry season.

On the illegal water connections in Metro Manila, Alvarado noted that at least half of the water allocation to the two water concessionaires of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) are unaccounted for.

Another factor is the deforestation of watersheds in Bulacan that drastically cut down their water-holding capacity with the siltation of river systems.

Alvarado pointed out that the main source of water supply to Metro Manila comes from the Angat watershed reservoirs that goes down to Ipo Dam, which in turn supplies the water needs of La Mesa Dam in Quezon City and eventually the Balara water filtration plant before it is served to Metro Manila households.

Meanwhile, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) said water allocation for MWSS will remain at 36 cubic meters per second (CMS) until next week.

NWRB executive director Sevillo David said even if the water level in Angat Dam is continuously declining, the 36 CMS allocation for Maynilad and Manila Water will be enforced up to the first week of July.

The Dam Water Level Update provided by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) showed Angat Dam’s water level at 158.17 meters yesterday, .23 meters less the 158.40 meters recorded Wednesday.

The NWRB said that after the water level in Angat Dam hit the critical 160-meter mark in the morning of June 22, apart from the reduction in water allocation, it also placed the dam on Low Level Outlet mode which involves opening of the dam’s bottom channel.

David said they will monitor developments this week until July since it is expected that rains will come next month.  

“The decision if there will be further reduction in water allocation from the 36 CMS being implemented now, will depend if there will be rains in the next couple of weeks. There is a need to review current weather projections for July,” he said.   – With Rhodina Villanueva

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