For Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba, the water from Magat Dam and other provinces caused severe flooding.
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has been releasing water from Magat Dam since Nov. 9, even before the landfall of Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco). The 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.
NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya said the dam would break and cause bigger tragedy if waters were not released.
“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 NIA official said the Magat Dam reservoir was catching water from eight water tributaries from Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya. Even if Ulysses did not directly affect the Magat Dam area, water continuously poured into the dam.
Officials explain why Cagayan Valley had ‘worst’ flood in 40 years
Visaya also said the Cagayan River is already heavily silted.
“Nakikita natin na ‘yung Cagayan River ay heavily silted na. Makita niyo, ‘yung tubig na lumalabas diyan, brown na,” he said.
“Low-lying talaga kasi ‘yan. Catch basin talaga ang Cagayan,” Visaya added.
Meanwhile, Mark Timbal, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesperson, claimed that the Cagayan Valley widespread flooding was due to the Cagayan River’s swelling and not because of Magat Dam’s water.
“These flooding incidents are the cumulative effects of the continuous rains experienced in Luzon,” Timbal told the Inquirer.
He explained that there has been “more than a month’s worth of rainy days,” in addition to at least five tropical cyclones that hit Luzon in the past two months.
Tuguegarao City local government in Cagayan Valley eyes filing charges against NIA for the release of water from Magat Dam allegedly caused the flooding.
Asked for comment, Visaya said: “No problem. Naiintindihan po natin ‘yan. Sasagutin natin ‘yan.”