Water in Pangasinan's San Roque dam remains critical

April 8, 2010 11:02 am 

By Leonardo V. Micua

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan, April 8 — The water level of the San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam Project (SRDMP) in San Manuel, Pangasinan remains critical due to the current dry spell affecting the northern part of the country.

But despite this, there was no disruption in the delivery of 95 megawatts of energy to the Luzon grid by the San Roque Power Corporation (SRPC), a private company that operates SRMDP ever since the latter started its operations sometime in 2001.

Tom Valdez, SRPC vice president for corporate social responsibilities, said the National Power Corporation (NPC), which operates two hydro-electric projects in the upper stream of the Agno River, is doing everything it can to manage the little water that is left.

He said the NPC, in coordination with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), currently limits the amount of water flowing from the Ambuklao and Binga Dams in Benguet because of the current dry spell affecting Northern Philippines as a result of the El Niño phenomenon.

Valdez told newsmen in Lingayen that to date, the water level at SRMDP is at low 236 meters above sea level, which is lower than the expected water level there at this point and time of the year.

The normal water level of SRMDP is 280 meters above sea level. Its spilling level in case of continuous rains,like what happened in October during the onslaught of typhoon “Pepeng”, is 290 meters above sea level.

SRMDP, the highest rock-fill dam in Southeast Asia and the second highest all over Asia, was built in 1996 during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos and completed in 2000 during the term of President Joseph Estrada.

It started its operation in 2001 during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The structure was built by a consortium of foreign companies led by Japan’s Marubeni Corporation and Ital-Thai under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme.

After 25 years, the project will revert to the government of the Republic of the Philippines, through the NPC.

Valdez said because of the need for water in the farmlands of Pangasinan until May 15 this year when farmers finally start harvesting their second crop rice, NPC had to release water in trickles.

He said the scanty water being released is just enough to turn the turbines of SRMDP when it is producing 95 megawatts of electric power for the Luzon grid.

Valdez said the plant's peak hour of operation is from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. the following day.

It is only when the SRMDP produces electricity that it releases water downstream of the Agno River, thus making water available to the Agno River Irrigation System (ARIS).

He said SRPC monitors the daily water level of the dam and tells NPC of their need for water so the latter would know the volume of water that it need to dispatch from Ambuklao and Binga dams.

This is necessary, Valdez said, in order to sustain the water that is needed by farmers in the lowlands of Pangasinan till they harvest their second crop rice starting by the middle of May.

He expressed hope that the arrangement between NPC and NIA will continue until June or July this year at which time the big rains may already be coming in.

Since no rain was noted yet and the temperature is getting higher, Valdez expects the water level in the dam to still go down further.

He noted that the inflow of water from upstream at this time of the year has also been vastly reduced at an average of from 10 to 20 cubic meters per second.

This was quite low, he said, as compared to the annual average flow at 80 cubic meters per second. (PNA)

LDV/lvmicua/rma

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