Hope remains for Angat’s dwindling water level

By , on June 26, 2015

View of Angat Dam from San Lorenzo (Hilltop), Norzagaray, Bulacan.
View of Angat Dam from San Lorenzo (Hilltop), Norzagaray, Bulacan.

MANILA — Onset of this year’s rainy season raised optimism for water level in Metro Manila’s main water source Angat Dam to rise past the 180-meter minimum operating level (MOL) there despite the prevailing El Nino phenomenon.

According to hydrologist Elmer Caringal from State weather agency Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), such water level rise will occur by July’s end if rainfall then reaches 530 millimeters which this office forecast for Angat watershed next month.

“That rainfall will bring Angat’s water elevation to 188 meters,” he said.

He noted such elevation will be 8.0 meters above the MOL.

Caringal continued calling for water conservation to help ensure availability of water in Angat, however.

Angat supplies water for irrigation, power and Metro Manila’s use.

Government’s protocol is to stop water supply for irrigation once water level in Angat reaches the MOL there.

On May 26 this year, Angat’s water level breached the MOL and dipped to 179.98 meters as of 6 a.m that day.

Caringal attributed the dip to lack of rainfall in Angat due to the drought-driving El Nino’s onslaught.

Volume of water withdrawn from Angat daily for various uses exceeded volume of water flowing into this dam, PAGASA also said.

Angat’s water level continued dipping and reached 171.73 meters as of 6 a.m. Thursday (June 25).

“We’re not alarmed about such development, however,” said Caringal.

He noted there’ll still be rain despite the prevailing El Nino.

“In previous years, Angat’s water dipped to even lower levels but we still survived,” he also said.

PAGASA reported Angat’s lowest water level so far was 157.56 meters in July 2010.

2010 was an El Nino year, PAGASA data also showed.

This week, PAGASA announced onset of the 2015 rainy season.

Intermittent to continuous rains and thunderstorms associated with southwest wind flow will affect Metro Manila and other areas in the country’s western portion, PAGASA said.

“With the rainy season’s onset, it’s likely that areas affected by below-normal rainfall conditions will improve in the coming months specially in northern Luzon,” PAGASA continued.

PAGASA expects the rainy season to last until September this year.

Near- to above-normal rainfall is likely in the next three months, PAGASA Acting Administrator Dr. Vicente Malano said earlier.

“Rainfall amount will be likely less starting September due to El Nino,” he noted.

Earlier, PAGASA weather expert Anthony Lucero said the country can expect between three to five tropical cyclones (TCs) this July.

“We also forecast two to four TCs for each of August and September,” he said.

Malano noted occurrence of El Nino doesn’t reduce the number of TCs expected in the country.

El Nino affects TCs’ intensity and direction, however, he clarified.

“We’re not discounting the possibility of seeing very strong TCs towards 2015’s end,” he added.