New Magat Dam protocols proposed after Cagayan-Isabela flooding | Inquirer News

New Magat Dam protocols proposed after Cagayan-Isabela flooding

/ 11:41 AM January 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is proposing a new set of protocols concerning Magat Dam’s water release following the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses that resulted in flooding in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela last year.

During the joint hearing of the House committee on agriculture and food with the committee on the North Luzon quadrangle on Thursday, NIA administrator Ricardo Visaya said that a technical working group (TWG) was formed following the flooding incident to review Magat Dam’s existing operational protocols.


According to Visaya, several new protocols were proposed including improved coordination of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) with the local government units (LGUs), more frequent warnings on water release and more understandable information dissemination, and earlier water release prior to the landfall of storms, among others.

For instance, Visaya said one of the proposals include the activation of warning stations 24 hours before pre-emptive water release from Magat Dam. Previously, warning stations are activated only six hours before pre-release.


Visaya added that public announcements can also be done through text blasting, at least twice, and ensure there is acknowledgement from LGUs three hours following the public announcement.

This is to address complaints that some LGUs were not informed about the water release, said the NIA official.

Another proposed protocol, Visaya said, is to drawdown the Magat Dam reservoir water level three to four days before the expected landfall of the typhoon. Before, this was done two to three days before the expected landfall.

“Mas maaga na ang pagre-release natin from sa dati (We will release water earlier than before),” Visaya said.

Other proposed protocols include the following:

  • Pre-emptive release will be done when the dam reached 190 meters above sea level elevation, wherein discharge of cubic meter per second should be translated into height of flood to be experienced in the locality for layman’s easy understanding.
  • Warning on intense rainfall issued by Pagasa wherein water discharge should be expressed in terms of meters or feet of flood for layman’s easy understanding.

Residents of Cagayan and Isabela said the flooding in their areas following Typhoon Ulysses was the worst they have experienced in four decades.

Some local government officials blamed NIA’s decision to release water from Magat Dam, one of the largest dams in the country, for the flooding.

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TAGS: Cagayan flooding, Magat Dam
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