Magat Dam (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The National Irrigation Administration on Wednesday assured the public that the release of water from dams would always be gradual, calculated and coordinated with concerned government agencies.

NIA Administrator Benny Antiporda made the assurance following claims that flash floods that happened at the height of the onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng were due to the unannounced release of water from dams.

Antiporda maintained that the agency would not signal the release of water from any dam unless it is coordinated with other national government agencies and local government units. At the same time, residents are also notified ahead.

“One thing that we can say, hindi po mangyayari na iyong tinatawag natin noong araw na nangyayari po iyong flashflood dahil po sa Magat Dam. Iyan po ay hindi na mangyayari dahil lahat po ng actions po natin dito sa Magat (the flash flood that happened before because of Magat Dam will never happen again because all our actions here in Magat) is fully coordinated with the NDRRMC [National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council], fully coordinated with PAGASA and, of course, with the LGUs [local government units],” Antiporda said during the Laging Handa briefing.

“And people are notified as early as possible ‘no bago po tayo magpakawala ng tubig; hours before ay nagsa-siren po tayo, nagkakaroon po ng text blasts at full coordination (before we release water, we sound the siren hours before, we do text blasts and full coordination),” he added.

Antiporda also vowed that what transpired in 2020 when Cagayan Valley was hit by a flash flood after Magat Dam released water through its seven spillway gates at the height of Typhoon Ulysses will not happen again.

The extensive flooding, which residents described as the worst in 40 years, affected 22 cities and municipalities in the province.

In the case of last week’s onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng, NIA conducted a preemptive release of water when it opened one gate of Magat Dam by one meter as the storm continued to dump water. This is to ensure the 190-meter spilling level is not exceeded.

The dam, however, is still at the critical level of 190.68 meters Wednesday.

“Ang ginagawa po natin, bago ho tayo mag-release kinabukasan ng tubig, 24 hours po iyan, ano po, nagbibigay po tayo ng notice sa kanila; inaaprubahan po ng PAGASA iyan bago tayo magbukas (What we do before we release the water the next day, we made sure that we notify them; PAGASA will approve it first before we open),” he said. (PNA)