CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija – Irrigation officials are pushing for a cloud seeding operation in the absence of monsoon rains to boost the water reserve at the Pantabangan Dam in this province.
The water level of Pantabangan Dam is at 176 meters above sea level, as of Tuesday, way below the 189.36 meters above sea level (masl) of the same day in 2019, based on records from the National Irrigation Administration-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-UPRIIS).
In an interview Tuesday, NIA-UPRIIS department manager Rosalinda Bote said their request for authority to conduct cloud seeding over the Pantabangan Dam reservoir and watershed are to mitigate the effect of “prolonged dry spell on agriculture areas and water stress” was approved by NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya.
“But we are still closely monitoring the PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) and based on the forecast, there will be La Nina (from) August to October,” Bote said.
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 (rice).
In a letter to Visaya, Bote said they have to irrigate 115.302 hectares up to November 7, this year.
UPRIIS provides irrigation to farms in Nueva Ecija and portions of Pampanga, Bulacan and Tarlac.
“Last year kasi nagkaroon ng two-week habagat ng July kaya mabilis tumaas ang tubig natin sa Pantabangan unlike ngayon. Naulit nung 2015 ay bumaba din ang elevation kaya nagpa-cloud seeding din noon. Nahinto lang ng typhoon Nona (Last year because there was a two-week southwest monsoon in July so the water level in Pantabangan rose rapidly unlike now and what happened in 2015 repeated wherein the elevation also dropped so we also conducted cloud seeding and it was stopped by typhoon Nona,” she said.
Due to below normal rainfalls, Bote said that local flows such as the Peñaranda River Irrigation System which caters to Gapan City and Atate Dam that serves this city were also adversely affected.
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 gagamitin lang kung kinakailangan. Ang rotational na paggamit sa daloy patubig ay ipinapatupad na rin sa mga service areas ng iba’t ibang dibisyon (Farmers who are part of the Irrigators ’Associations within the jurisdiction of NIA-UPRIIS are aware of the state of irrigation and we expect their cooperation to maximize any rainwater blessings and drainage re-use. Even pumps or pumps are also reserved to be used as needed. Rotational use of irrigation flow is also being implemented in the service areas of the various divisions),” she said.
Bernardo Valdez, provincial agriculturist, expressed hope that the below normal rainfalls would not affect the Nueva Ecija’s production.
“Naantala ang mga sahod-ulan pero sa irrigated ay may ginagawang hakbang ang NIA-UPRIIS (The rainwater has been delayed but the NIA-UPRIIS is doing measures for irrigated),” Valdez said. (PNA)