On Monday, National Irrigation Administration Administrator Ricardo Visaya explained why Magat Dama had to open its gates and release water amid the heavy rains from Typhoon Ulysses, saying it would break and cause bigger tragedy.
“Ang laki ng ating reservoir ng Magat [Dam] is about 4,800 hectares. ‘Pag ito ang na-break, lumampas sa spilling level na 193 meters above mean sea level, mag-spill po ‘yan. Masisira po ‘yan at milyon-milyon po na tao ang maaapektuhan,” Visaya said in an interview on GMA’s Unang Hirit.
(The size of our Magat Dam reservoir is about 4,800 hectares. If it breaks, it exceeds the spilling level of 193 meters above mean sea level, it will spill. It will be destroyed, and millions of people will be affected.)
Magat Dam opened seven gates at one point on November 12 and released water volume equivalent to 106.223 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or around two swimming pools per second.
“Meron tayo mine-maintain na safety level. It should be below 193 meters above mean sea level. Kung ano dapat ang inflow should also be the outflow,” Visaya said.
(We are maintaining a safety level. It should be below 193 meters above the mean sea level. The inflow should also be the outflow.)
The NIA official said the Magat Dam reservoir was catching water from eight water tributaries from Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya. So even if Ulysses did not directly affect the Magat Dam area, water continuously poured into the dam.
NIA: Magat Dam would break if waters not released
“Ang Magat reservoir natin doon pumupunta ang walong tributaries. Doon sa Ifugao, mga tatlong rivers, atsaka Nueva Vizcaya, lima ‘yan. Hindi natin ma-control ‘yan. Kaya inu-unti-unti natin ‘yung pagpapalabas ng tubig,” Visaya said.
(Our Magat reservoir is where the eight tributaries go. In Ifugao, about three rivers, and in Nueva Vizcaya, there are five. We can’t control that. So we are slowly releasing water)
“However, noong November 12, hindi nag-landfall ‘yan sa Isabela ang Ulysses, but ang daming tubig na pumapasok sa Magat Dam. So anong gagawin natin diyan? So sinusunod natin ‘yung protocol,” he said.
(However, on November 12, Ulysses did not landfall in Isabela, but the water amount entered the Magat Dam. So what are we going to do there? So we follow the protocol.)
He explained that as per protocol, NIA would await PAGASA’s advisory before the dam releases water.
“Hindi kami makapagpalabas without the advice ng PAGASA. Actually, sa mga pre-releases, na-advisan kami ng PAGASA na nasa preemptive stage na at kailangan nang magpakawala,” he added.