‘Nona’ brings relief to El Nino-hit Region 2 farmers

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CAUAYAN, Isabela: The National Irrigation Administration-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MRIIS) here said the continuous downpour brought on by Typhoon Nona has ended the prolonged dry spell that had been damaging rice and corn plantations in Region 2.

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NIA-MRIIS department manager Wilfredo Gloria said the water inflow of 661 cubic meters per second as of 12:00 noon on Wednesday has increased Magat Dam’s water level to 184.70 meters.

The present water level is 9.7 meters above the dam’s normal level of 175 meters, which was 8.3 meters below its critical and spilling level of 193 meters.

Gloria said the water release of 140 cubic meters per second (CMS) from the Magat Dam reservoir is a big relief to farmers who were clamoring for more water to irrigate their farmlands.

“Our priority is irrigation, not power. It is really a big relief as the downpour continues to increase the dam’s reservoir to be able to supply the much needed water for rice plants in the provinces of Ifugao, Quirino and Isabela,” Gloria said.

However, low-lying communities were warned of a possible large volume of water to be released in the event the level at the dam’s reservoir reaches its critical and spilling level.

During the onslaught of Typhoon Lando in October, Cagayan River swelled and caused flooding in Tuguegarao City and other Cagayan towns after large volumes of water were discharged to relieve the aging dam structure.

Gloria said continuous rain brought about by Nona can result in the swelling of the dam’s major sources such as the Ibulao River in Ifugao and the Magat River in Nueva Vizcaya.

In 1983, the Magat Dam was the largest dam built in the Philippines. It now supplies irrigation water to more than 85,000 hectares of farmland in Isabela, Quirino and Ifugao provinces.

The dam also generates at least 360 megawatts of electricity for the Luzon grid, the second biggest power source among Luzon-based hydro-dams.

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