Rain-fed Angat Dam, Metro Manila’s main water source, may again be hit by El Niño this year but state weather bureau officials say there is no cause for alarm.
Latest international models indicate the possible recurrence of the drought-driving El Niño phenomenon this year after its damaging 2015-2016 onslaught, threatening Angat and other areas.
That episode, one of El Niño’s strongest, adversely affected rainfall patterns and tropical cyclone formation bringing drought and a long dry spell to most areas nationwide, including Bulacan province where Angat Dam is located.
State hydrologists, however, believe that Angat is unlikely to encounter water woes even if El Niño revisits this year.
“Water in Angat is already enough to meet this dam’s purposes at least until year-end, even with El Niño,” said hydrologist Richard Orendain of the state weather bureau.
Angat had much less water in February 2016 compared to this month but was still able to supply water amid El Niño’s onslaught, he noted.
Hydrologist Gine Nievares of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration noted that Angat is still receiving some rain from the northeast monsoon, further ensuring the availability of water.
“There was no more rainfall in the Angat area in February (2016), so its water level was not as high as this month’s,” she said.
Despite the optimistic outlook, Orendain urged water conservation in Angat’s service areas so that the dam’s reserve would last longer.
“Summer is also approaching so we must not waste water,” Orendain said.
The government built and started operating Angat Dam in the 1960s to supply water for irrigation in Bulacan and Pampanga provinces and for Metro Manila’s needs.
Angat’s water is also used for power generation.
Orendain said Angat can still supply water at normal allocation levels this year even if El Niño strikes noting that Angat’s reserve is enough for 2017 even without rainfall.
The dam’s water level at 6 a.m. on Friday was at 209.89 meters, 4.03 meters higher than its 205.86-meter water elevation exactly a year ago.
“There’s a lot of water in Angat at present,” Orendain said, adding that he sees no water shortage this year.