A WATERSHED surrounding the ecologically and economically-critical Lake Lanao is experiencing several threats, including informal settlers, the Regional Development Council (RDC) reported.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) Sultan Sarangani said the "watershed is experiencing a varying degrees of erosion."

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"There are also built-up areas that have sprouted within the watershed, particularly near the fringes of Lake Lanao," Sarangani said during the meeting.

One noticeable change in the physical aspect of the lake is its water level, which Sarangani noted to have dropped from as high as 701 meters in the early 1930's to around 699 meters in recent years.

DENR-Armm, however, said Lake Lanao watershed is under the jurisdiction of the DENR (national) per Presidential Proclamation 871 dated February 26, 1992, issued by former President Corazon Aquino.

The power crisis in Mindanao is brought about by the below normal capacity operation of the hydropower plants in the island due to the extremely low water levels of Lake Lanao.

Sarangani also revealed that mud has heavily accumulated in the Agus River, preventing the National Power Corporation from operating its hydro power plants at full capacity due to the damage that the mud may cause on the turbines.

The Mindanao Energy Crisis has taken center stage during the meeting of the RDC to draft recommendations for the immediate and long-term solutions of the ongoing problem.

Director Maria Lourdes D. Lim, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda)-Davao regional director and head of the Committee Secretariat, said that during the meeting Director Emmanuel Llaneza of the Department of Energy (DOE), “Mindanao Field Office briefed RDC Mindanao on the power crisis, saying all the region’s power plants could only provide half of the power demand of the island at any one time."

Llaneza said this has forced power providers to resort to rotational brownouts, some of which run up to eight hours.

He added that the DOE has crafted an emergency plan for the country up to 2030, but the proposed programs and projects will not likely to immediately solve the power crisis in the island.

He said the most feasible intervention at the moment is augmentation of the power supply, particularly through the procurement of power generation sets. (Carlo P. Mallo)