The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) assured on Thursday that Angat Dam would have sufficient water supply to provide irrigation for farmers in Central Luzon for the start of the planting season next month.
NWRB Executive Director Sevillo D. David Jr. made the assurance after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) announced last Tuesday that El Niño might hit the country as early as June.
During El Niño, the country is expected to experience below-normal rainfall.
“We assured them there will be sufficient water from Angat Dam, which will be released to ensure you will be able to harvest [their current crops] and prepare for the next planting season this June,” David said in Filipino in a television interview with PTV last Thursday.
Currently, the NWRB said water level in Angat Dam is at 194.4 meters, which is still over the 180- meter critical level.
He said they are reducing the release of water from Angat Dam for irrigation since almost all of the farmers in the 27,000 hectares farmland in Bulacan and Pampanga have completed their harvest.
“Now, we only have to provide irrigation to 2,000 hectares [of farmland],” David said.
“When they are about to harvest, they don’t need much water. That is why for this month, we adjusted their allocation from 30 cubic meters per second last April to 10 cubic meters this month,” he added.
NWRB noted they conduct similar reduction in water released from Angat Dam each year.
David, however, said that for this year, he wanted to be more efficient in the use of the water from the Angat Dam due to the anticipated El Niño.
“Because of the concerns on El Niño, we need to prepare and monitor the developments in Angat Dam since we need to see how much water is received during El Niño,” David said.
Enough fish to fry
IN a related development, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has assured the public that it will implement measures to prepare for El Niño, and ensure sufficient food supply.
In a statement, DA’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) National Director Demosthenes Escoto said that the weather phenomenon, forecasted to emerge starting in June, has positive and negative impacts on the local supply.
He said El Niño might be favorable to pelagic species such as tuna and sardines because these organisms prefer warmer water temperatures.
On the other hand, the weather phenomenon may be challenging to land-based aquaculture species like bangus and tilapia since lower water levels may also mean scarcity of dissolved oxygen in their habitats, Escoto added.
The good news, he said, is that local fisherfolk could cushion the impact of El Niño on their catch by following good aquaculture practices.
The DA-BFAR is encouraging fisherfolk to practice good aquaculture practices like having the appropriate stock or number of fingerlings in their cages so they won’t lack oxygen, thus lessening the probability of fish kill occurrence, Escoto said.
Moreover, the national director has assured the public that the agency’s mitigating measures are in place to boost aquaculture production ahead of El Niño.
The strategies include intensifying information, education and communication campaigns among fish farmers; boosting production of fish farming in cages in the mariculture parks; and ensuring sufficiency of fry and fingerlings.
Escoto said the DA-BFAR would also continue its close monitoring of algae bloom for possible “red tide” occurrence and provision of technical assistance on fish disease detection and treatment, among others.
Meanwhile, he also reported that the supply and prices of fish in local markets remain stable.
Citing the DA-BFAR’s latest price monitoring report, Escoto said bangus is priced at P120 to P160 per kilo, while tilapia range from P130 to P150 per kilo. Local-fresh galunggong are priced at P200 per kilo.