The National Irrigation Administration assured the House of Representatives Thursday of the implementation of new Magat Dam protocols, including a 24-hour lead time alert prior to release of water, as the agency moved to prevent a recurrence of massive such as what was experienced during the onslaught of typhoon “Ulysses.”
On the other hand, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources aired plans for the conduct of massive reforestation program in the endangered watershed areas surrounding the 574-kilometer stretch of the Cagayan River.
These proposals were submitted to the House Committee on Agriculture and Food and the Special Committee on Northern Luzon Quadrangle as it resumed hearings on its inquiry into the record flooding incident that resulted to death and huge agricultural losses in Cagayan and Isabela last year.
Reporting to the House panels, NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya vowed closer coordination with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to give them sufficient information about weather disturbances that might affect localities covered by the Magat Dam’s reach.
From a lead time of six hours, a 24-hour lead time to advise localities will be observed before the preemptive release of water from the Magat Dam.
“We will also conduct text blasting to advise local officials about our planned preemptive release,” Visaya said.
The release of water from Magat Dam has been widely blamed for the flooding of wide areas of Isabela and Cagayan last year.
However, Visaya said the water discharge is merely one of the contributing factors in the flooding.
He said denuded mountains, erosion due to massive deforestation, successive heavy rains, and tremendous siltation of the river are also among the causes of the deluge.
Mountain Province Rep. Solomon Chungalao proposed an aerial inspection of the river and the dam to determine other factors of flooding that have not been observed by authorities.
During the hearing, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Wilfredo Moncano disclosed that dredging of heavily silted areas of the Cagayan river may start next month.
On the other hand, Executive Director Nilo Tamoria of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources revealed that Secretary Roy Cimatu has activated the anti-illegal logging task force that will soon conduct operations in the natural forests in Region 2.