Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija (File photo from NIA-UPRIIS)

MANILA – The water level of three major dams in Luzon will likely continue to drop this January, fueling the need to manage and conserve water to help guard against water shortage before the onset of the rainy season.

At the end of the month, the water levels in Angat, Pantabangan, and Magat dams are estimated to be at about 191 meters, 203.50 meters, and 174 meters, respectively, according to the latest available assessment of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

These levels are lower than the dams' corresponding 6 a.m. levels of 201.84 meters, 205.67 meters, and 185.31 meters on Saturday, PAGASA data also showed.

Expected rainfall this January over watersheds where the dams are located may not be sufficient to considerably raise water in these facilities, PAGASA hydrologist Adele Duran said.

"Prolonged rainfall that can really raise water there is unlikely," she said.

Duran also did not discount the possibility of water shortage in Angat Dam if it fails to receive considerable rainfall and its water level dips by 0.2 meters to 0.3 meters in the next four months.

Water shortage is also possible in Pantabangan and Magat dams, she added.

The challenge is how to manage and conserve the dams' water so it can be available for months before the rainy season starts middle of the year, Duran said.

This January, PAGASA expects the Angat, Pantabangan, and Magat watersheds to receive almost 96 mm., 91 mm., and 49 mm. of rainfall, respectively.

PAGASA's assessment, however, showed the forecast rainfall is less than half of what the watersheds need to receive for water levels in the three dams to rise and reach their normal high levels.

Duran said localized thunderstorms and the northeast monsoon or "amihan" may bring rains that could augment water in the three dams.

However, these rains would not considerably raise the water levels in the dams, she clarified. (PNA)