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The Ups and Downs of the Forty Six Year Old Angat Dam

Constructed in 1967, the Angat dam is really one of the country's oldest
structure yet one that is still in service to a lot of people be it as a source of
water for drinking and irrigation or as a provider of much needed electrical

With that in mind, the ongoing rehabilitation of the 46-year old

Bulacan-based dam is a sigh of relief since it has never underwent any major
repairs since its completion years back.

The P1.08 billion dam and dike strengthening project will result into a taller
core and a wider downstream slope to make it withstand a magnitude 7.2

The rehabilitation project spearheaded by the Angat Hydropower Corp., a

joint venture between San Miguel Corp.’s subsidiary, SMC Global Power
Holdings Corp. and Korea Water Resources Corp., is peg to be completed in
two years.

The move is desperately needed as any failure from the structure can send
ripples to consumers which in turn will affect businesses and other

The El Niño Challenge

However, even in the middle of a retrofitting, the dam is already facing some
challenges which were caused by the ongoing El Niño phenomenon.
With a maximum water capacity of 212 meters, the dam supplies 500 million
gallons or 97 percent of daily water consumption in Metro Manila and parts
of Rizal, Bulacan and Cavite with a roughly 12 million population.

The El Niño phenomenon however has recently caused the water level of the
dam to be constantly near critical levels which already prompted to stop
allocating water for farm irrigation and implement supply interruptions for
potable water.

The supply interruptions were said to affect around 18 percent or 230,000

households and could cause less than 12 hours of water allocation daily. The
absence of water supply for irrigation meanwhile is projected to cause the loss
of 130,000 metric tons of rice production.

Aside from its effects on the availability of potable drinking water and a
significant loss in agricultural output, lower water level of the Angat dam will
also affect consumers since it cannot provide its full potential of producing 246
megawatts of electricity.

It can be noted that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and

Astronomical Services Administration warned before that the country can
only expect rainfall for the months of August and September this year and the
remaining months until summer of 2016.

The weather bureau's warning can be directly interpreted that whatever

water that the Angat dam has by end-September must be used very wisely as
dry days will be ahead of us all.

With that, the government however should not be left alone in looking for
solutions to mitigate the effects of the water supply challenge that we may be
facing since all of us are responsible and liable in order to survive it.
We, the Filipino people have already proven a lot of times before that our
spirits are water proof. However, in this challenge brought by the El Niño
phenomenon, we must show that our spirits are also tempered and built to
outlast even the hottest of days.