Legarda asserts updated protocols on dam water releases

September 24, 2014

SENATOR Loren Legarda said Tuesday that the dams in the country should be regulated to prevent flooding in nearby places.

Legarda, who chairs the Senate committee on climate change, reminded the National Power Corporation (Napocor) to ensure that protocols on dam water releases effectively control and not worsen flooding.

“Update dam protocols and improved coordination among agencies on disaster management and dam operators must serve their purpose of reducing and not worsening disaster impacts,” said Legarda.

Legarda noted that several dams reached their spilling levels last week due to heavy rains brought by combined effects of Tropical Storm “Mario” (international codename: Fung-Wong) and the southwest monsoon.

The senator said that in 2009, a series of public hearings were conducted when dam operators released waters on outdated protocols, which caused flooding in several provinces in Luzon.

“Like Ondoy in 2009, Mario brought too much rain for a day. These extreme weather events are the new normal and we should keep up with it through effective disaster risk reduction and management programs, which should include updated protocols on dam water releases,” Legarda said.

In line with this, Legarda urged the Napocor to consider her suggested protocols regarding the regulation of dams.

“Protocols should include projections of extreme weather events and must be linked with effective forecasting and early warning systems,” she said.

In addition, Legarda cited the relevance of timing to control releasing of waters in the country’s dams.

“Aside from ensuring that dam protocols are updated, there is a need to review actual implementation of such procedures. Timing is important — when and how much water should be released before a typhoon arrives is crucial in ensuring that dams store flood volume,” Legarda added.

Legarda urged the operators of the dams to ensure of not “indiscriminately” releasing dam waters when it reaches spilling levels due to heavy rains.

Legarda also instructed the dam operators to warn communities, which are possible to be affected on the release of dam waters by giving alerts to allow them to respond ahead of time.