Magat Dam drying up owing to lack of rain

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CAUAYAN CITY: The absence of rainfall in the watershed areas of Magat Dam has greatly lowered the water level in its reservoir and has limited irrigation, the National Irrigation Administration-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MRIIS) said.

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“As of our monitoring last week, there are only 78 cubic meters per second inflow in the dam while it is releasing 150-200 cubic meters per second for power and irrigation use,” Operations Manager Mariano Dancel said.

Still, Dancel said, the dam has released irrigation water in some service areas of NIA-MRIIS.

“Thus, we are urging our farmers and irrigator’s association to use our irrigation water wisely due to the limited inflow in the Magat reservoir,” he said.

At present, there are at least 63,000 hectares being irrigated by Magat dam.

“Water release limitation, however, has been imposed to avoid wastage of water,” Dancel said.

The Magat Dam is on the Magat River, which is the largest tributary of the Cagayan River on the island of Luzon. Cagayan River is the longest in the Philippines.

Officials said the Magat River has an estimated yearly water discharge of 9,808 million cubic meters and has an approximate crest length of 4,160 meters with its headwaters in Nueva Vizcaya and its confluence with the Cagayan River in Isabela.

The portion of the Magat River on which Magat Dam is located forms part of the boundary between the provinces of Ifugao and Isabela.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has urged residents of Cagayan Valley to prepare for the El Niño phenomenon.

According to Pagasa officials, El Niño is expected to hit the country this month and may persist for the next nine months.

Weather experts foresee that the El Niño may reach its peak in the last quarter of 2014 and may last up to the first quarter of 2015.

Climate models predict that this condition may persist until February 2014, according to Pagasa.

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