RAMON, Isabela: The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said the water level in Magat Dam is still below normal but is continuing to climb at a “very slow pace” despite the heavy downpour in Nueva Vizcaya.
The dam’s instrumentation and forecasting officer Engineer Saturnino Tenedor said that as of 11 a.m. on Tues- day, the water level is safe at 170.3 which is less than five meters below normal level of 175 meters.
The Magat Dam can irrigate at least 80,000 hectares of farmlands in Isabela and parts of Cagayan and Quiri- no provinces.
“With the recent heavy downpour upstream Magat River in Nueva Vizcaya with 35 millimeter rainfall depth in the last two days, the dam’s water level could only rise at 10 centimeters per hour,” Tenedor said.
However, he said that if the heavy rainfall upstream and in watershed areas could continue and maintain its present rainfall volume, the dam’s water level could rise at two meters daily.
“But this is not so because even at its upstream watershed areas in Bagabag town and in Ifugao province there is very little or zero rainfall at all,” Tenedor said.
Once Asia’s biggest power and irrigation facility located along the Isabela-Ifugao border, the dam is also the second biggest power provider among hydro-dams in Luzon contributing at least 380 megawatts of electricity for the Luzon grid.
Last month, Tenedor said the dam’s water level dropped to its lowest in three years at 160.46 meters which is less than a meter above its mini-mum operational level to generate power.
NIA officials said the 160 meters water level is the minimum operational level for the Magat Dam to continue generating power.
They said that in July 1991, it was also recorded that the more than 30 years old dam had its all time low of 149 meters.
Meanwhile, Tenedor has allayed fears of flooding downstream in Isabela and Cagayan provinces by the possible release of the dam’s excess water due to reported heavy downpour monitored in Batu Bridge in Bambang town in Nueva Vizcaya in the the past two days.
“There is no cause to be alarmed by the heavy downpour since it would take more than that reported volume of rainfall before the level of water reaches 193 meters wherein a release of water from the dam’s reservoir is necessary,” he said.
Tenedor said that with the dam’s present level of water, it would take some 23 meters more before the release of water would be needed.
The Magat River in Nueva Vizcaya and the Ibulao River in Ifugao are the dam’s major sources of water.