Legarda: Dams Should Control, Not Worsen Flooding

September 24, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda today reminded the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR), which is in charge of managing 22 water dams in the country, to ensure that protocols on dam water releases effectively control, not worsen, flooding.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that at the height of incessant rains brought by Typhoon Mario and enhanced by the Southwest Monsoon, several dams reached their spilling levels.


“Updated dam protocols and improved coordination among agencies on disaster management and dam operators must serve their purpose of reducing, and not worsening, disaster impacts. Protocols should include projections of extreme weather events and must be linked with effective forecasting and early warning systems,” she said.


“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,” she added.


Legarda also said that when dams reach spilling levels due to heavy rains, operators should ensure that they do not indiscriminately release dam waters, that the warnings reach the communities that will be affected, and that the alerts allow them to respond ahead of time. Meanwhile, local governments should make sure that flood warnings are heeded by the communities and forced evacuation is implemented when needed.


The Senator recounted that in 2009, the Senate Committee on Climate Change, which she chairs, conducted a series of public hearings after the onslaught of Ondoy and Pepeng. A matter of discussion in these hearings was dam operations as waters were released based on outdated protocols, flooding several provinces in Luzon.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,” said Legarda.