Watershed protection heightened for 3 hydroelectric power plants

BOKOD, Benguet -– The National Power Corporation together with the local government of Bokod is heightening its programs to protect the estimated 86,000 hectares of the Upper Agno River Watershed.

The watershed is generally located in Benguet province but portions expand to the neighboring provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao and Mt. Province.

Upper Agno River Watershed chief forester Onofre Castro said the watershed provides water to run three hydroelectric power plants - Binga Hydro Electric Power Plant, Ambuklao Hydro Electric Power Plant and San Roque Hydro Electric Power Plant.

Ambuklao's run-off water flows to the San Roque dam located at the boundaries of Benguet and Pangasinan.

Binga produces 125 megawatts of power, Ambuklao is capable of producing 105 megawatts while San Roque produces about 500 megawatts of electricity. Together, the three produce more than 700 megawatts of power for the Luzon grid.

Castro, however, said with the threat of illegal logging activities as well as the conversion of portions of the watershed to agricultural lands, programs are being intensified to protect the source of water.
Currently, there are eight forest rangers guarding the area.

Castro added they hope to receive approval of hiring 20 forest rangers to further protect and preserve the watershed.

Castro also explained it is their task to protect, conserve and manage the watershed, which does not only benefit the town, but the Filipinos in general with the presence of the three power plants supplying Luzon.

He also mentioned punishing violators may not be as effective and may not eliminate the possibilities of others destroying the watershed.

Castro said it is better to educate the people through the conduct of information and education campaigns.

Police Senior Inspector Vicente Tamid-Ay, Bokod chief of police, also said patrolling the watershed area is a regular activity considering the low criminality rate in the town.

He revealed that they have confiscated the number of illegally cut pine lumber from loggers and transporters. Charges were filed against those arrested and the hot logs seized.

Bokod is about two hours away from Baguio City. (PNA)
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