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Water board nixed petition to reduce Angat dam level during ‘Pedring’–power exec

Failure to release water blamed for massive flooding in Bulacan

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01:29 PM October 3rd, 2011

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October 3rd, 2011 01:29 PM

MANILA, Philippines — The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) has rejected a request to release some water from Angat dam in Bulacan, which could have contributed to the massive flooding in the province.

National Power Corp (Napocor) president Froilan Tampinco told the congressional oversight committee on disaster risk redecution and management Monday that as early as September 2,  they wrote the NWRB if they could lower the level of water in Angat dam from the present 208 meters to 205 meters in anticipation of Typhoon “Pedring” that hit the country last September 27.

The NWRB has the authority to approve or disapprove any request to release water from the dams.

But in an emergency, dam operators can release water even without the approval of the board when the water reaches the so-called “high reservoir level,” Tampinco said.

In the case of Angat dam, Tampinco said the high reservoir level should be 210 meters.

“We knew that there’s typhoon that was coming. We knew that the level was still below 210 but we already requested NWRB if we could be allowed to release water prior to the arrival or incidents of heavy rainfall in order to get a better storage buffer,” the Napocor chief told the committee on Monday.

But their request, Tampinco said, was denied by the NWRB.

“We actually received a response on September 12 denying our request,” he said.

“They said it was not necessary to lower the reservoir level to the present 208 meters to 205meters for the time being since there’s no typhoon or major disturbances,” Tampinco said.

Tampinco’s revelation came as a surprise to members of the committee.

“Were they not informed by Pagasa?” asked Senator Loren Legarda.

“You should have argued your case because you know your business and you’re the expert and it’s going to be your responsibility,” she added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson then inquired whether or not the NWRB was under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

To Lacson’s surprise, NDRRNC administrator, Undersecretary Benito Ramos said,” Bago ko lang narinig yung NWRB [I only heard about NWRB now].”

“Naku, nayari na talaga tayo [Now we’ve really been compromised],” Lacson said.

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