MANILA, Jan. 29 — Amidst reports of decreasing water level in major dams located in Luzon due to "El Nino," Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has directed the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to closely monitor the status of water supply particularly in the four major dams — the Magat Dam in Isabela, Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija, San Roque Dam in Pangasinan, and Angat Dam in Bulacan.
Data showed that the water level in the three major dams had decreased while Pantabangan is still above operating rule curve water level" (ORCWL).
The ORWCL is the level that shows the required amount of water to irrigate programmed areas for the dry season cropping.
NIA Administrator Carlos Salazar on Friday said that except for Pantabangan, the negative sign (-) in the three major dams indicates that the usual programmed area to be irrigated cannot be sustained anymore, unless strategies will be adopted.
According to NIA-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (UPRIIS) Operations Manager Antonio Nangel, the heavy rains brought about by typhoons "Ondoy," "Pepeng" and "Ramil" helped Pantabangan store enough water to last until summer.
Meanwhile, Salazar said he has directed all regional and operations managers to implement various strategies to mitigate the effect of the looming El Nino phenomenom.
Among these are the adoption of water savings technology such as the sustainable system of irrigated agriculture, which features intermittent and lesser water application; the quick turn around scheme which encourages farmers to plant early maturing rice varieties to enable them to plant a third crop; re-use of drainage water; and adoption of rotation method of water delivery and distribution.
To make these strategies effective, Salazar advised them to closely coordinate with the irrigators associations, local government units (LGUs) and other agencies involved in food production to muster their cooperation.
NIA has also programmed for the year the distribution of shallow tube wells (STW).
It would also continue the rehabilitation and restoration of existing irrigation facilities and construction of on-going foreign and locally funded irrigation projects.
To make these strategies known to stakeholders especially the farmers, pamphlets/flyers are reproduced and distributed. (PNA)