With the entire country now experiencing a mild case of El Niño, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) assured there is ample supply of impounded water to be used for irrigation – at least for the next two months.
In a media briefing on Friday, NIA Administrator Flo-rencio Padernal allayed fears that rice fields in major rice producing areas may suffer from the prolonged the dry season, saying that all major irrigation dams remained above critical level.
“We are good up to end of May this year,” Padernal said. “Water management schemes, which we initiated September of last year, helped us maintain water level in major irrigation facilities above critical level,” he said.
Padernal added majority of rice farmers was already able to harvest their crops, allowing minimal discharge of irrigation to the remaining palay (unmilled rice) areas.
Should the short dry spell persist in some parts of the country, the NIA chief said that they have prepared water allocation programs that would ensure minimal water loss until the rainy season.
“These will include reduction of water delivery to all areas affected, allowing us to extend our water reserves at least until June,” he said.
Traditionally, wet cropping season, which accounts for 60 percent of the total palay production, starts in June.
The agency also prepared shallow tube wells at the tail end of irrigation systems, and other areas that usually suffer from water shortage.
It has also started with the repair of irrigation canals for free flow of water, and minimize water loss through patching of holes and desilting.
“We will implement a downstream start of water delivery and distribution, alternate wet and dry method of farming and controlled irrigation, and rotation of irrigation delivery,” he said.
In the event that there is a need to address water elevation in our dams, Padernal said that the agency is ready to disburse our quick response funds amounting to P500 million for cloud seeding operations over watershed areas.
By May, NIA will also conduct its periodic consultation with farmers groups and irrigators to plot cropping schedules.
NIA currently has 1.675 million hectares of serviceable areas nationwide.