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NIA granted full Angat water allocation in May

THE National Water Resources Board (NWRB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said they agreed on a full allocation of water from Angat Dam for irrigation ahead of the harvest.

“For May, full allocation was given by the NWRB to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) because May is the last month of the cropping season. Farmers will soon harvest their crops,” Environment Undersecretary Carlos Primo C. David said in a briefing on Monday.

He added that NIA will be allocated 24 cubic meters per second (cms), following an adjustment in the wet-season crop calendar to start in February due to El Niño.

The dry-season calendar has been adjusted accordingly to start in September.

Angat Dam is the main source of water for Metro Manila and nearby provinces, accounting for about 90% of the capital’s potable water.

Mr. David said that despite the threat of El Niño on the water supply to keep from letting the dry-season crop from going to waste.

“We are in the last month of the cropping season. If we were to stop at this point masasayang ’yung dry season cropping natin (our dry-season crop would go to waste); therefore, we have given full allocation to irrigation for a harvest by the end of May,” he said.

According to the government weather service, known as PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), El Niño is currently weakening, with its effects projected to last until August.

“The El Niño is ending but the drought conditions persist because of the transition from El Niño to La Niña,” Science and Technology Secretary Renato U. Solidum, Jr. said.

PAGASA said that about 41 provinces will experience drought until the end of April, with 23 undergoing dry spells.

Mr. David added that the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) will be allocated 50 cms for the May 1 to 15 period, unchanged from January. The MWSS typically draws 48 cms from Angat Dam.

“The allocation is enough from May 1 to 15. However, I should mention that even if we have full allocation… our secretary is recommending to us and the (other) agencies to do pursue conservation measures,” he said.

Mr. David added that the department will release a bulletin on water conservation measures.

“(There are) at least two months of drought conditions that we need to get through. Kahit sapat pa ang ating tubig (even if the water is sufficient), we need to practice conservation,” Mr. David said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture reported that the damage to farm goods from El Niño has amounted to P4.39 billion, with rice and corn being the most affected crops.

Damage to rice made up 61.7%, or P2.71 billion of the total, equivalent to 113,446 metric tons (MT).  Corn damage was valued at P769.68 million or 45,995 MT. — Adrian H. Halili