Around 32,000 hectares of farmlands in 14 towns and cities in the province of Pangasinan are facing dire straits, after the water level in the San Roque Dam dipped to a record low.
This water level drop makes a cut in the water supply for irrigation in Pangasinan more likely.
On Wednesday, July 14, when the San Roque Dam plunged to 226.50 meters above sea level (masl), the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) warned local government units of the looming irrigation cut.
Cipriano Yabut, chief of the Agno-Sinocalan and San Fabian River Irrigation System under the NIA, said water supply would be cut once the level falls to 225 masl.
The dam’s normal high water level is at 280 masl.
The stoppage of the irrigation, Yabut said, was necessary, as turbines would be destroyed if the water continued to be released at such a low rate.
“Dahil mababa yung water levels, kailangang isara ng dam yung daanan ng tubig. Malabo ring makapag-produce ng kuryente nang walong oras ito kapag bumaba sa 225 masl ang tubig,” said Yabut.
(Because water levels are low, there is a need to close the dam. It would also be difficult to produce hydro-electricity for eight hours if the water drops to 225 masl.)
The San Roque Dam produces 115 megawatts of power over eight hours of operation. But this too, could be compromised.
With the impending crisis, the NIA has told local government units and farmers of the predicament they are facing.
The San Roque Dam also irrigates 32,500 hectares of farm lands spread across the towns of San Manuel, Asingan, Villasis, Laoac, Binalonan, Manaoag, Sta. Barbara, Malasiqui, Mapandan, Natividad, San Nicolas, San Quintin, and Sta. Maria, plus the City of Urdaneta.
As of now, only 15,000 hectares have been occupied, while the remaining are under preparation.
The San Roque Dam receives its supply of water upstream, from the water released by the Binga and Ambuklao Dams.
Yabut and local farmers here are hoping for more rains upstream, as it would greatly help replenish the San Roque Dam’s water supply.
Meanwhile, Assistant Provincial Agriculturist Nestor Batalla said the provincial government has given water pumps to several farmers and farmer groups in the province to help if the water supply from the dam is cut off.
Batalla also recommended that farmers plant crops in the meantime that require less water. – Rappler.com