Pagasa: Review dam water release protocols

Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - November 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — All protocols were followed in the release of water from Magat Dam at the height of Typhoon Ulysses, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

PAGASA administrator Vicente Malano, however, stressed the need to revisit these protocols in the aftermath of massive flooding in Cagayan Valley during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

Malano said the review of the protocols could be undertaken after the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council approved the creation of a dam safety oversight committee.

Malano said the protocols should delineate the roles and responsibilities of concerned agencies on dam management and information dissemination.

He said PAGASA has no responsibility over dams and only releases information on the water level.

Malano said existing protocols were issued in 2012 during the Arroyo administration following widespread flooding in 2006.

Aside from water release protocols, he said further studies should be conducted on the dam capacity as well as Cagayan  River’s siltation and smaller tributaries.

Malano said the swollen river system due to continuous heavy rains spawned by previous weather disturbances caused massive flooding.

”Hindi nakayanan ng river system ang dami ng binuhos na ulan hindi lang ng Ulysses pati ng frontal system,” he said.

Malano said the release of water from the dam was coordinated with the National Irrigation Administration.

He also cited constrictions in smaller tributaries, such as those in Alcala, that could have caused backwater flow and flooding in many areas in Cagayan.

P16-B damage

Meanwhile, the NDRRMC said Ulysses resulted in damage worth P16 billion, with 4.4 million people affected.

Damage to infrastructure was placed at P11.89 billion, almost half of which was reported in Cagayan Valley.

Over P4.7 billion in damage to agriculture was recorded in Luzon.

Meanwhile, the landslide that left 10 people dead in Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya was not due to mining near the area, the result of investigation conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) released yesterday  showed.

MGB regional director Mario Ancheta said the area is highly susceptible to landslides based on joint geohazard assessment and inspection conducted as early as 2018.

Ancheta said the area is susceptible to flooding regardless if mining activities are being conducted.

Authorities have yet to implement the eviction of informal settlers in the area since the MGB assessment was released. – Raymund Catindig

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