Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr. is determined to seek legal action to improve the protocol concerning the release of water from San Roque Dam to assure the safety of the public against occurrence of flashfloods.
In a press briefing held August 7 at the PDRRMC, the Governor expressed dismay over the perennial problem on dam release that has constantly alarm the public every time there are storms or heavy rains that happen in Pangasinan.
“This has been going on for three years. Nasa pang-apat na taon na tayo. We cannot continue like this,” Gov. Espino said as he added that he is determined to seek legal assistance on the matter to clear once and for all what is vaguely stated in the protocol.
It will be recalled that the dam was blamed for the massive flooding in Pangasinan in 2009 that submerged 38 towns and cities and ravaged around P4billion worth of crops, fish, roads, bridges and dikes after San Roque operators opened all of the dam’s spillway gates when it was about to reach its full capacity.
“Usapan noon na at 276 masl magbukas na sila para hindi na nila biglaang magbukas pag nandyan na ang malaking tubig,” Gov. Espino noted as he added that the protocol was actually violated as the dam reached the 284 meters above seal level (masl) a day before the media briefing.
Even when the water level at the dam has already surpassed the agreed 280 masl spilling level, San Roque Power Corporation still waited for the go-signal from its lead agency National Power Corporation (NPC) to direct dam crews to start discharging waters in two gates that are now opened at two meters with an outflow of 580.66 cubic meters per second (cms).
“SRPC’s reason why they tend to accumulate 280 masl and above is to avoid flooding in the lowlands, but we don’t have floods in the lowlands in fact,” the provincial chief executive noted.
“Ang naging problema is nag-ipon sila ng tubig for power generation maski hindi nila sabihin,” said the Governor as he repeatedly refuted that he will not stop until the protocol will be revised.
The Governor pointed out that one of the dangers of abrupt release of water from the dam is that a stretch of the Agno River from San Manuel towns has not been dredged thus sudden release of water like in 2009 can cause the river to overflow and may even breach the dikes which will endanger the lives of the people.
Meanwhile, Provincial Administrator Rafael F. Baraan said that under the protocol, it is axiomatic for Napocor to order release of water once water level at the dam reaches 276 masl.
Any delay in the release of water, Baraan said, would result to undue accumulation of excess of water from the dam, and a sudden release of a large volume of water could trigger flashflood.
While there was no typhoon in the Philippine Area of Responsibility which could have spawned heavy downpour, the provincial administrator noted that the increased intake of water being spilled by Ambuklao and Binga dams could accelerate the rise of water within the dam structure.
Four instances where protocol on water releases is observed are as follows: when dam water reaches 276 masl with continuous rainfall; when water is at spilling level of 280 masl; when there is a typhoon in the area; and, when there is an inflow of 500 cubic meters per second, the same volume must be made in the outflow process.
The provincial government is scheduled to conduct a multi-sectoral onsite inspection and public hearing on Monday, August 13 at the SRPC. (PIO/Ruby R. Bernardino)