The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) said on Thursday that it has approved the allocation of irrigation water from Angat Dam for 14,000 hectares of rice farms in Central Luzon.
NWRB Executive Director Sevillo D. David Jr. said the agency has agreed to allocate as much as 10 cubic meters per second (cms) of irrigation water from October 16 to 31 to prevent damage to P1.19 billion worth of crops planted in the Angat-Maasim River Irrigation System (Amris) area.
“The board considered the request of the National Irrigation Administration [NIA] for the release of water for irrigation,” David told reporters in a media briefing.
David said the water allocation will only be available to farm lands in Bulacan and some parts of Pampanga if the necessity arises.
“This [water release for irrigation] will be subject to clearance. The NIA will have to request and notify the NWRB if it deems that the farmers are in great need of irrigation water.
The NWRB will conduct a rapid validation to see if the requirement merits the release of the water,” he said.
NIA Operations Department Acting Manager Romeo Lopez said the agency is currently monitoring the state of standing crops.
“Low water level in canals and dry soil are some of the indicators we have to determine if there is a need to request the release of the standby water allocation,” Lopez said.
He said the NIA is also asking the NWRB for water allocation in November and December.
Lopez disclosed that the NWRB has already decided not to allocate irrigation water from Angat in January 2016 due to the low water level of the Angat Dam.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Deputy Administrator Nathaniel Santos said the MWSS is willing to support a cloud-seeding operation in the area to prop up the water level of the Angat Dam.
“MWSS is ready to give financial assistance to conduct cloud seeding in Angat. We are hoping this could be done this week or early next week,” Santos said.
Lopez said the NIA has already requested Task Force El Niño to allocate funds for cloud-seeding operations in irrigable areas in the Amris area.
Meanwhile, David said the NWRB has decided to further cut Metro Manila’s water allocation to 36 cms from 38 cms.
“We are now experiencing strong El Niño, and it is expected to last until April next year. With this, the board has decided to further reduce the water allocation of MWSS,” David said.
Currently, the Angat Dam’s water level is at 189.91 meters, which is still more than 20 meters below the normal high water level of 210 meters, David said.
The NWRB, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is the lead government agency tasked to determine water allocations.