Irrigation water rationed in Isabela

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LUNA, Isabela: To ensure continuous water supply to farmlands in Isabela and neighboring provinces, the government-administered irrigation agency is implementing a rotational irrigation water supply scheme in the Lower Magat irrigation system.

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Officials of the National Irrigation Administration-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MRIIS) on Monday said they are adopting the scheme because of the “continuous drop” of water level of Magat Dam.

Wilfredo Gloria, acting NIA-MRIIS operations manager, said the rotation is needed to ensure enough water until the next planting season.

He explained that absence of rainfall in the previous weeks saw water elevation of the dam at 176 meters, or only one meter above the normal level of 175.

In July 1991, it was recorded that the more than 30 year-old dam had its all-time low of 149 meters.

NIA officials said 160 meters is the minimum operational level for Magat Dam to be able tocontinue generating power as well as supplying enough irrigation water.

Once Asia’s biggest power and irrigation facility located along the Isabela-Ifugao border, the dam is the second-biggest power provider among dams in Luzon contributing at least 380 megawatts of electricity to the Luzon grid.

Magat Dam is also the second-biggest power source among Luzon-based hydroelectric dams and can irrigate at least 85,000 hectares of farmlands in Isabela and parts of Cagayan and Quirino provinces.

The dam’s major water sources are watershed areas in Isabela, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya, upstream Magat River in Nueva Vizcaya and the Ibulao River in Ifugao.

Built in 1983, the Magat Dam is a large rock-fill dam located on the Magat River at the boundary between the municipalities of Alfonso Lista in the province of Ifugao and Ramon in Isabela.

“I am hoping that in the coming days there will be enough water supply to fill in the dam despite the prediction of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration that the country may experience El Nino in the coming months,” Gloria said.

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