‘Central Luzon farms need 2 typhoons’

PEÑARANDA, Nueva Ecija—The National Irrigation Administration says two more typhoons are needed to fill the reservoir of the Pantabangan Dam and help irrigate some 39,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Central Luzon.

One typhoon normally adds five to six meters to the reservoir.

These farmlands have been affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

“All it takes is a pair of typhoons and we will be okay,” Reynaldo Puno, operations manager of the NIA’s Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems, said.

Puno added that rainwater generated by typhoons would not only fill the dam but would enable the irrigation system to withhold releasing water.

For the dry season of November to April, the irrigation agency has  only programmed for 75,000 hectares of farmlands out of the total service area of 114,000 hectares for irrigation. This represents a decrease of 39,000 hectares.

This is more than thrice the projected 12,000 hectares decrease in service areas estimated by UPRIIS during a water summit it held in October last year.

Puno said that this was due to the low water level of the Pantabangan Dam, which was placed at only 191.91 meters as of Thursday.

The water level is still above the critical elevation of 172 meters; it is, however, way below the spilling level of 221 meters.

“At this level of 191.91 meters, the areas which we can service will be down by 39,000 hectares and that’s because of El Niño. We need to have a water elevation of 210 meters to be able to cover the service area,” he said.

He added that this month and next month, they will virtually stop releasing water from the Pantabangan Dam. “If ever we release water, it would only be minimal,” he said.

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