by Armand M. Galang
|Damaged riceland in San Miguel, Bulacan. Photo by Dino Balabo|
GAPAN CITY – A phenomenal decrease in water supply from the local source affects over 13,790 hectares in five municipalities and a city in Central Luzon, leaving thousands of farmers and irrigation officials praying for rain.
Records show the biggest of the areas affected by water shortage is Bulacan with 4,605 hectares in San Miguel and 985 hectares in San Ildefonso, followed by Pampnga with 4,780 hectares in Candaba while Nueva Ecija has 3,419 hectares with 380 hectares in Gapan, 2,100 hectares in Cabiao, and 930 hectares in San Isidro.
Engr. Eugenio Conde, Jr., manager of the National Irrigation Administration-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-UPRIIS) Division 4 which holds jurisdiction over said areas, said the water supply from Peñaranda River “was abnormally low at only three cubic meters per second or merely 10 percent of the normal 30 cubic meters per second.”
“Kasi kakaiba ang nangyayari sa ilog natin sa Peñaranda. For the previous six years ‘yung average flow na nanggagaling sa ilog ay nag-a-average ng 20 to 30 cubic meters per second,” Conde explained, saying that irrigation officials actually had to divert water from a reservoir to the river itself due to huge supply and strong local flow.
“But this year, nag-umpisa pa nung last week ng December hanggang sa panahong ito, nagmi-minimum nang about three cubic meters,” he added. The division can get supplemental supply from Pantabangan reservoir as supplemental source, the official said.
The dam he said, has sufficient water but the system still had a hard time diverting it through the Pampanga Bongabon Irrigation System (PBRIS) due to both human intervention and natural causes.
“The problem is yung pagpaparating ng tubig natin from Pantabangan Dam down to PBRIS dam which serves as storage of water for Division 4,” Conde said. “Of the designed 20 cubic meter per second, on the average ay umaabot lamang sa 10 cubic meters ang nakakarating, halos ay 50 percent lang, the most is 15 percent” he added.
At the water requirement of 1.55 cm per hectare, Division 4 needs at least 28 cubic meters per second for its 23,917-hectare service area, according to Conde. However, only 13 cubic meters per second flow on its canals in the last six weeks.
A group of farmers from Candaba trooped to the NIA division office here to air their concern last week. But Conde said, he could only discuss with them the current condition of the reservoir and pray for rain, at least over the Peñaranda watershed.
The condition slightly improved sometime last week, Conde said, due to “moderate rainfall at Peñaranda River watershed,” he said. But water supply depleted soon to again only 40 percent of the requirement, he added.
“Kung magtutuloy-tuloy ang ulan, palagay ko’y mareresolba natin ‘yan,” he said.