Possibility of critical-level Angat Dam water looms

By Catherine Teves

January 8, 2019, 7:33 pm

MANILA -- The reserve in Metro Manila's main water source, Angat Dam, may dip to critical level during the first semester of this year due to the possible onslaught of the El Niño phenomenon.

"Such scenario can happen if El Niño recurs so there's need for water conservation in this dam's service areas," said hydrologist Edgar dela Cruz of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

He said the level of Angat's reserve was at the 214.12-meter mark as of 6 a.m. Tuesday (Jan. 8), enabling this facility to still meet its purpose of supplying water for Metro Manila, irrigation in some parts of Bulacan and Pampanga provinces, as well as power generation.

"That level is above Angat's normal water level of 212.00 meters during this time of the year so the dam has a lot of water at present," he noted.

But a possible rainfall shortage due to El Niño can cause Angat's reserve to dip and even possibly hit the critical level of 180 meters, he warned.

Authorities usually suspend the release of Angat water for irrigation if the reserve reaches such level, making this point critical to the dam's operation.

In its latest available outlook, PAGASA said El Niño is possible in early 2019.

"Potential meteorological dry spell to drought conditions are likely in most areas of Luzon and the Visayas in coming months," PAGASA noted.

Available PAGASA data indicate that the provinces that may experience drought during the January-March 2019 period included Bulacan, where Angat Dam is located.

Drought is either three consecutive months of way-below normal rainfall or five consecutive months of below-normal rainfall, noted PAGASA.

Dela Cruz said users of Angat Dam's water must already practice water conservation even if the reserve is still more than enough to meet the needs of its service areas.

"Aside from reducing people's water bills, water conservation will help make Angat's reserve available for a longer period," he said.

There is a need to lengthen the availability of such reserve as El Niño will delay the onset of the rainy season, he added.

PAGASA said the country's rainy season generally commences around late May, occurring after the dry season's peak, which is the period commonly called summer.

Growth of population in Angat Dam's service areas is also raising urgency for water conservation, dela Cruz continued.

"Such population growth means more water consumption so everyone must conserve water to help ensure availability of this resource," he said.

Authorities are recommending several ways of conserving water in households.

Among these are repairing leaking pipes, recycling water when possible, turning off faucets while brushing teeth and installing water-efficient fixtures. (PNA)