CABANATUAN CITY – Irrigation officials are pushing for a cloud seeding operation in the absence of monsoon rains to boost reserve of Pantabangan Dam.
The water level of Pantabangan Dan was read at 176 meters above sea level, on Tuesday, July 28, way below the 189.36 masl of the same day in 2019, based on records from the National Irrigation Administration-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System.
NIA-UPRIIS department manager Rosalinda Bote said their request for authority to conduct cloud seeding over Pantabangan Dam reservoir and watershed to mitigate the effect of “prolonged (dryness) on agriculture areas and water stress” was approved by Admin. Ricardo Visaya.
“But still close monitoring din kami sa PAGASA at base sa forecast magkakaroon naman ng La Nina ng August to October,” Bote said, hoping these can build up water reserve in Pantabangan Dam. She noted that recent occasional rains in the downstream areas were not experienced in the dam reservoir.
Fortunately, Bote said, most farmers in the 141,431 hectares programmed areas for this rainy season have already planted palay.
In a letter to Visaya, Bote said they have to irrigate 115.302 hectares up to Nov. 7, 2020. UPRIIS provides irrigation to farms in Nueva Ecija and portions of Pampanga, Bulacan, and Tarlac.
“Last year kasi nagkaroon ng 2-weeks habagat ng July kaya mabilis tumaas ang tubig natin sa Pantabangan unlike ngayon naulit yung 2015 ay bumaba din ang elevation kaya nagpa-cloud seeding din noon nahinto lang ng Typhoon Nona,” she explained.
Due to below normal rainfalls, local flows such as Penaranda River Irrigation System which caters to Gapan City, and Atate Dam that serves this city were also adversely affected. “Maging ang local flows mula sa Atate Dam para sa Division III at mula sa Peñaranda Dam para sa Division IV, na dati-rati ay sumasapat para patubigan ang mga nasasakupan ng nasabing Division Offices, ay hindi naging sapat ang suplay, bagkus ang Pantabangan Dam din ang inasahan,” she explained.
She commended farmers belonging to various irrigators association for working with them in alleviating the impact and taking conservation steps: “Ang mga magsasaka na bahagi ng irrigators’ associations sa nasasakupan ng NIA-UPRIIS ay batid na ang kalagayan ng patubig at inaasahan ang kanilang kooperasyon na i-maximize ang anumang biyaya ng tubig-ulan at ang drainage re-use. Maging ang mga bomba o pumps ay laang gamitin kung kinakailangan. Ang rotational na paggamit sa daloy patubig ay ipinapatupad na rin sa mga service areas ng iba’t ibang dibisyon.”
Bernardo Valdez, provincial agriculturist, expressed hope that the below normal rainfalls would not affect Nueva Ecija’s rice production: “Naantala ang mga sahod-ulan pero sa irrigated ay may ginagawang hakbang ang NIA-UPRIIS.“