Still reeling from the floods caused by the heavy rains of Typhoon “Ulysses,” residents of Cagayan and Isabela provinces will have to bear the brunt of water being released by the Magat Dam located in Ifugao.
However, the National Irrigation Administration-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MARIIS), which operates the Magat Dam, claims it issued warnings on the dam’s water release as early as November 9.
“The National Irrigation Administration-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System has advised residents of the Provinces of Isabela and Cagayan in Region 2 of its water release from the Magat Reservoir to maintain safe water level of the Magat Dam on Monday, November 9, 2020, two days before Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) made its first landfall in Patnanungan, Quezon, at 10:30 p.m.of November 11, 2020,” NIA-MARIIS said in a statement on Sunday.
The NIA-MARIIS said that Magat’s water level was at 192.15 meters on Sunday morning, or only 0.86 meters from its spilling level, which prompted NIA-MARIIS to release water from the dam.
“Pre-releases of calibrated opening of dam gates must be made before the occurrence of typhoon or unusual weather disturbances. This is to minimize, if not to avoid large Magat Dam discharges before spilling level will be reached,” the agency said, adding it had warned residents of areas to be affected in Cagayan and Isabela.
“Prior to Typhoon Ulysses, five typhoons had affected Isabela and Cagayan Valley and almost the entire Luzon, causing continuous rain for almost two months. During this period, two gates opened or an equivalent of four meters were opened to reduce water containment at the Magat Reservoir. However, as water inflow from our Magat watersheds continually increases, additional gates must be gradually opened to maintain the safe level of the Magat Reservoir,” NIA-MARIIS said.
NIA-MARIIS Dam and Reservoir Division Manager Eduardo P. Ramos said his team is in close coordination with Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGAS)A, Regional Agricultural Fisheries Extension Network group and other concerned local government offices when making decisions on water releases.
Different mediums such as TV, radio, print, social media, emails, short message service (SMS) and sirens are used to disseminate information of current situation of Magat Dam and its water releases. All stakeholders are also kept posted and updated as to the actual scenario of the water volume that may be flowing into their place on an hourly basis through SMS.
“NIA-MARIIS officials have warned residents living near low-lying areas, particularly those adjacent to and along Magat River and Cagayan River to move to higher and safer places as the dam continues to release water starting November 9. It is necessary to release water from the reservoir for purposes of preventing the dam from reaching its critical level of 193 meters that may compromise its structural integrity and may result to a catastrophe to nearby municipalities and more impact on a widespread flooding in Region 2,” NIA-MARIIS said. JONATHAN ARACELI FOR SOVEREIGNPH