CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Farmers in Central Luzon would have to brace for a possible delay in the wet cropping season, as the continuing decline of water from the Angat Dam may push the start of the planting season a bit farther.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said water level at Angat Dam, as of 6 a.m. of May 2, was at 177.97 meters, below the 180-meter minimum level required for normal operations.
Following this, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) said the water level could hit 173.52 meters by the end of May if it continues to drop.
Pagasa hydrologist Richard Orendain said if Angat lacks water, farmers in this dam’s service areas may not be able to plant palay in June. And with the 2019 rainy season’s expected onset between late May and mid-June, farmers would have to adjust their planting cycle or plant crops that require less water.
As of May 1, the irrigation supply to 17 towns in Bulacan and four towns in Pampanga has been reduced to 20 cubic meters per second to allow more water to be used for domestic purposes.
The dam’s normal water level is 212 meters, while its critical level for drinking water is 160 meters.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, however, is optimistic that this would not affect overall productivity in the region.
He said if ever the water allocation for irrigation for Bulacan and Pampanga farmlands is abruptly cut, there are other alternative sources of irrigation, as the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) can still provide water pumps to the farmers.
The NIA usually provides shallow tube wells and open surface pumps that could be used by the farmers for irrigation.
Angat Dam supplies 90 percent of the domestic water supply of Metro Manila. It also supplies irrigation to 20,000 hectares of farmland in Bulacan, while 2,000 hectares of Pampanga’s farmlands in Candaba and border lands of San Luis and Santa Ana also get their water supply from the dam.
Metro Manila’s 90 percent of water consumption daily is sourced from Angat Dam.
The DA said the domestic purpose of Angat Dam’s water would surely compete with the dam’s water if it does not reach full capacity.