RAMON, Isabela: Rains brought by Typhoon Ferdie (international codename: Meranti) have failed to raise the “critically low level” of water at Magat Dam here.
Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Region 2 monitoring showed the level of rock-filled Magat dam at the boundary of the municipalities of Alfonso Lista in Ifugao and Ramon in Isabela remained critically low, being below the normal level of 175 meters.
Norma Talosig, OCD-Region 2 director, said the water level even decreased by half a meter from 169.30 meters on Tuesday to 168.79 on Thursday even when the typhoon had brought intermittent rains to Cagayan Valley region, specifically upstream Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao provinces.
The National Irrigation Administration-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MRIIS) confirmed this in its report to the OCD at the height of the typhoon that directly hit the province of Batanes on Wednesday.
Engineer Wilfredo Gloria of NIA-MRIIS explained that the average desired normal level was at 190 meters, which is three meters below the 193-meter maximum level or spilling level of the reservoir.
NIA officials, however, said the normal water level of 175 meters is needed to sustain sufficient supply of irrigation water to farmlands in Isabela and Quirino while the level of 160 meters is the minimum operational level for the Magat dam to continue generating power.
The dam was built more than 30 years ago.
In July 1991, it recorded its all-time low level of 149 meters.
Magat dam was the largest in the Philippines when it was built in 1983.
It generates 360 megawatts of electricity (with water head of 81 meters high) and supplies irrigation water for approximately 85,000 hectares of farmland in Isabela and surrounding areas.
Meanwhile, millions-worth of agricultural crops were destroyed because of insufficient rain for supplying irrigation water to thousands of hectares of farmlands in Isabela.
According to the Isabela Provincial Agriculture Office, at least 40,386 farmers have been affected by a long dry spell, resulting in the loss of close to P1 billion worth of corn and palay (unmilled rice).