Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda urged Thursday operators to revisit and update their dam protocols after the massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela, partly due to Magat Dam’s water release.
“I believe all dams, including Magat Dam, should update their protocols. I am not saying that they did not update. That’s why an inquiry is in order,” Legarda said in an ANC interview.
Legarda said revisiting dam protocols would allow authorities to check if the water being released would not cause flooding to surround communities.
“Bago [magpakawala] ng tubig ang dam operator, ito ba ay nakitugma sa Pag-asa? Sinukat ba ang pagbagsak ng ulan at inabisuhan ba sa simpleng pamamaraan na maiintindihan ng mga local na pamahalaan?” she said.
“Sapat ba ang panahon para ilikas ang mga tao sa Cagayan Valley?” she added.
The congresswoman recalled that when she was still a senator, they also probed dams and other water reservoirs’ contribution to the massive flooding during Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009.
“Ondoy [poured a bigger volume of water], but the destruction in 2020 with Ulysses was much, much more. So we can see that there should be a revisit of the dam protocols,” she said.
Revisiting dam protocols is a must – Legarda
The House Committee on Agriculture and Food and North Luzon Growth Quadrangle on Tuesday began its investigation on the massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela.
During Tuesday’s hearing, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Ricardo Visaya insisted that the Magat Dam’s opening of the water gates was not the major cause of the massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela.
During the inquiry, Visaya showed a matrix which indicated that from November 9 to 14 amid the typhoon, the peak water inflow at Magat Dam was at 7,128 cubic meters per second. Still, the dam released only at 6,706 cubic meters per second.
Meanwhile, Buntun Bridge’s water level, which measures Cagayan River’s water level, was at 13.2 meters, Visaya added.
The NIA chief said that looking at the matrix alone, he could already conclude that the opening of Magat Dam’s water gates was not the primary cause of flooding in Cagayan and Isabela.
Visaya also insisted that those who would be affected by the water release were warned ahead of time.