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Water crisis looms as Angat water level

MANILA, Feb 23 — Amidst parched farmlands, cloud seeding is still not the best option to resolve dry conditions wrought by El Nino phenomenon, the weather bureau said.

Nathaniel Cruz, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) weather branch chief and deputy director for operations and services, said that such artificial way to induce rain was costly and might bring 'more harm than good' to adjacent provinces where rains, through cloud seeding, were targeted.

The Pagasa has raised warnings that water reserve in Angat Dam, located in Bulacan, was consumed faster than expected.

Cruz said Pagasa experts estimated Angat, Metro Manila's primary domestic water source, can supply at least until May but is nearing critical level fast.

"Use water wisely. Let's not wait until crisis hits us," he said.

Meanwhile Freddie Tuquero, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) division manager, in an interview with radio station DZMM, said waters at Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija were sufficient to irrigate at least 100,000 hectares of farmlands in the area.

Water levels in Pantabangan now stands at 204 meters, but is still far from 'critical level,' which is at 171.5 meters.

Pantabangan still receives water despite scant rains, because it is located at the downstream of Casecnan Dam in Nueva Viscaya, which accumulated enough rainfall during the passage of tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng in Luzon last year.

The Pagasa, however, said four provinces in Nueva Ecija including Gapan City, Palayan City, Peñaranda and Cuyapo were still affected by El Nino, where 350 hectares of lands were severely whipped by the weather phenomenon.

Cruz said El Nino will continue to affect the country at least until June to July.

The worst El Niño that occurred in the country was in 1997-1998 with a lingering drought that lasted for a year. This was followed by a weak El Niño in 2001- 2003. (PNA)RMA/MPC

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