In Bulacan, flooding due to dams’ water release leaves P17-M agri damage
CITY OF MALOLOS — The widespread flooding caused by the discharge of excess water by the three dams in Bulacan province last week left at least P17 million worth of damage to the local agriculture sector, authorities said on Thursday.
According to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), the hardest hit were rice and vegetable farms in the towns of Norzagaray, Angat, Bustos, San Rafael, Baliwag, Plaridel, Calumpit and Hagonoy.
These areas were submerged in floodwater that reached up to 1.52 meters (5 feet) when operators of the Angat, Bustos and Ipo dams discharged excess water between Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 after the reservoirs surpassed their breaching levels due to incessant rains at that time.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the heavy rainfall was caused by the northeast monsoon and a low pressure area outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility.
Data from the PDRRMO showed that the severe flooding damaged nearly 486 hectares of rice farms, 40 ha of vegetables and other crops, and 49 ha of fishery facilities. More than 300 farmers were also affected by the floods.
Rowena Tiongson, provincial social welfare and development officer, said the floods forced 3,500 families (or about 14,000 people) in the eight flood-hit towns to flee their homes.
As of Friday, at least 11 families, or 40 people, from the villages of Bulusan and Gugo in Calumpit remained in evacuation centers as floodwater continued to inundate their houses, said Ariel Manalo, assistant municipal disaster risk reduction management officer.
On Thursday, Gov. Daniel Fernando blamed what he described as the “mismanagement” of the three dams for the massive floods that hit the province and the failure of the operators to coordinate with the provincial government.
“Bulacan catches the runoff waters from these dams that are being operated by the national government agencies, causing floods and affecting our people and crops,” Fernando said during a meeting with the dam officials.
Fernando said the lack of preemptive measures by the dam operators, such as the gradual release of water from the dams, resulted in the “destructive” flooding.
The governor said the dam operators could have made “full coordination” with local officials before discharging water.
Conrado Sison Jr., head of the project management department of the National Power Corp. (Napocor), apologized to Fernando, saying they did not intend to cause harm when they released the excess water from Angat Dam. The Napocor operates the major reservoir.
He said they were only trying to balance the inflow and outflow of water from Angat Dam to ease the pressure and avoid further damage. The Ipo and Bustos dams, which are located below Angat Dam, catch the runoff water from the bigger reservoir.