Heavy rains fill dams in Pangasinan, Benguet
DAGUPAN CITY—Continuous rains and upland river discharges have elevated the water level of San Roque Dam, which could be sufficient for the second cropping season in 2,000 hectares of rice lands in five towns in Pangasinan province.
At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, the dam’s water level was 274.87 meters above sea level (masl), 55 centimeters higher than the 274.32 masl on Monday. The water level was 5.13 meters below the desired level of 280 masl.
“If this will continue for 18 days or more, or until the end of December, we may still be able to reach 280 masl to irrigate all the programmed areas under the Agno River irrigation system (Aris) of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA),” said Tom Valdez, vice president for corporate social responsibility of San Roque Power Corp. in San Manuel town.
On Monday night, a thunderstorm dumped rains in the province and in the Agno River basin, which straddles the Cordillera mountains.
Binga Dam in Benguet province, which is upstream of the Agno River, opened four of its spillway gates at 2 meters and closed it on Tuesday morning. The water from Binga is collected at San Roque Dam downstream.
Aris, which is one of NIA’s seven irrigation systems in Pangasinan, covers 12,150 ha in 10 towns and Urdaneta City.
Two weeks ago, NIA confirmed that farms in the towns of Santa Barbara, Malasiqui, Villasis, Laoac and Mangaldan, which are at the tail end of the irrigation system, would not be reached by irrigation water because of the dam’s low water level.
But even without irrigation water from the dam, rice planting for the second cropping season in the affected areas must continue, Nestor Batalla, assistant provincial agriculturist, said.
He said the National Power Corp. which operates the San Roque Dam, should provide farmers with water pumps.
Oftociano Manalo, president of Pangasinan Federation of Irrigators’ Associations, said affected farmers should be provided with vegetable seeds, corn and other crops that do not require much water.
Four Pangasinan towns are still reeling from rice black bugs, which have destroyed at least 750 ha of rice fields, but Batalla said they expect about 1.3 million metric tons of palay to be harvested this year. —GABRIEL CARDINOZA