Angat Dam water release sows panic
CITY OF MALOLOS—Operators of Angat Dam released water from the facility when water levels went past their spilling limit Friday, causing panic among villagers in Bulacan and Pampanga.
The Ipo Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan, also released water when reservoir levels went past limits.
Bustos Dam, an impounding facility for irrigation, has also discharged water since Thursday. Ipo and Bustos dams capture water from Angat Dam.
The discharges resumed 13 days after the dam’s gates were closed on Sept. 30. By then, Angat Dam’s water level reached 213.08 meters above sea level (masl), above the spilling level of 210 masl.
Reports of panicked residents in coastal towns in Bulacan and Pampanga circulated on Thursday evening, as news spread that the National Power Corp. released water from Angat Dam due to rains dumped by Tropical Depression “Ramon.”
“We alerted 10 municipalities along Angat River to monitor closely the situation in their respective areas,” said Nigel Lontoc, Central Luzon assistant director of the Office of the Civil Defense.
But Rodolfo German, general manager of the Angat River Hydroelectric Power Plant, told residents to calm down because the discharges were too small to raise floods.
He said the discharges were actually scheduled last week, “but Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado urged us to postpone [the releases on Sept. 30] because floodwaters in Calumpit and Hagonoy were still high.”
To bring down the Angat water level to 210 masl, German estimated that the discharges would have to last four to five days.
“The public will finally see for themselves that while we release water from Angat, the discharges are too minimal and will not raise floods,” he said.
Angat Dam provides power and 97 percent of Metro Manila’s water supply, and is a flood control facility because it impounds runoff rainwater from the Sierra Madre mountain ranges.
The dam also supplies irrigation water to 25,000 farmers in Bulacan and Pampanga. During the dry season, Metro Manila’s water supply is the dam’s priority.
Village officials in eight coastal villages in Masantol, Pampanga—which were isolated by floods and have gone without food and water for days—stayed awake to monitor the situation, according to former Vice Mayor Bajun Lacap.
Bulacan officials said the provincial government would proceed with filing a class suit against the state-owned power firm. Reports from Carmela Reyes-Estrope and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
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