ANGAT Dam’s water level is expected to drop below its 180-meter minimum operating water level (MOWL) in the next two days. This as the current dry spell is expected to last several more months.

Dr. Sevillo D. David, Jr., executive director of National Water Resources Board (NWRB), said in a press conference in Quezon City on Friday that the water level of Angat Dam as of 6 a.m. on April 26 hit 180.73 meters. This is projected to decrease further in line with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s (PAGASA) El Niño forecast, which is predicted to continue until August, with a possibility that it will persist until December of this year.

“As of April 26 this morning at 6 a.m. ’yung [the] Angat elevation is around 180.73 meters… at the current rate of decline of the water level in Angat we are projecting that it will breach ’yung [the] 180 (meters) minimum operating level… by the next probably two days,” he noted.

He said that according to PAGASA’s weather outlook, there will be “relatively reduced rainfall.” With this, he noted that the NWRB predicts that by the end of April, the dam’s water level will be at about 178 meters, going down to 173 meters by the end of May. This will then start to recover by June with the start of the rainy season, but rainfall is also expected to be reduced. By the end of October, the NWRB is expecting that the dam’s water level will reach about 190 meters.

Mr. David said that this current water level, and the expected weather in the next few months will be enough to address the water demand of households in Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, the approved allocation in the month of May for the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewage System (MWSS) is to be maintained at 48 cubic meters per second (CMS), while the allocation for the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will be reduced to 10 CMS from the previous 35 CMS.

The Department of Agriculture has said that El Niño damage to rice, corn, fisheries, and high-value crops as of April 25 has climbed to P7.96 billion, with an estimated volume of 447,889 metric tons (MT) worth of output lost. It has affected 277,889 hectares of land and 247,610 farmers and fisherfolk.

Mr. David said that the board decided to lower the release, and even suspend the release of irrigation water in the next few months because farmers are already nearing their harvest season, which requires much less irrigation. Also, as the dam’s water nears the minimum operating level, the priority will be the domestic water supply and not the irrigation systems.

“Because nasa terminal period na sila ng kanilang cropping, normally, mas reduced ’yung nire-require nilang water [because the farmers are nearing the terminal period of cropping, normally they will require a much reduced amount of water], so I think this reduction in irrigation requirement will [not] have a significant impact as far as the cropping season in Bulacan, in Pampanga is concerned,” he explained.

“We believe that, at least for the water supply of Metro Manila, there is sufficient supply at least for the month of May and succeeding months, however we will be closely monitoring… so that we can also act accordingly if there will be significant changes dun sa mga [in the] forecasted rainfall at inflow sa [in] Angat Dam,” he said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang