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Legarda to NDRRMC: Institute a National Dam Safety Program

October 4, 2011

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA DIRECTED THE NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION MANAGEMENT COUNCIL (NDRRMC) TO GATHER ALL DAM OPERATORS AND VARIOUS AGENCIES THAT OVERSEE THEIR OPERATIONS TO IMMEDIATELY INSTITUTE A NATIONAL DAM SAFETY PROGRAM THAT WOULD ENSURE BETTER MANAGEMENT OF WATER DAMS ESPECIALLY IN TIMES OF CRISIS.
Legarda made the directive during both the hearings of the Committee on Climate Change, which she chairs, and the Congressional Oversight Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction where representatives from the NDRRMC, the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR), National Irrigation Authority (NIA), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Climate Change Committee, and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) were present.
“We have a complex setup of dam operations in the country. The NIA, NAPOCOR, MWSS and the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) oversee the operations of various dams in the country. But the NIA is under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the NAPOCOR under the Department of Energy (DOE), the MWSS under DPWH, while the NWRB is under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).”
“Naturally, NAPOCOR, as an agency that produces energy, would focus on maximizing energy generation from the dams, while the MWSS will maximize water supply. If we want to minimize floods, then a risk-minded agency must take charge in times of typhoons,” Legarda stressed.
The Senator explained that in other countries, the operations of large dams especially if there are people and property that are at risk downstream, are turned over to state agencies during times of crisis.
“We need to have a national dam safety program that would take into account the dam priorities of water supply, irrigation, power generation and the effects of releasing water to downstream communities,” she said.
“Our focus should be to ensure that people are saved and losses are at a minimum during floods and to preemptively try and reduce the floods due to water release from dams” she added.
Legarda pointed out that a purely profit-oriented agency would not be able to undertake these goals easily, thus, the NDRRMC must be on top of planning and creating the national dam safety program, which incorporates a review of the structural integrity of our dams to dispel fears of collapse.
“We must act double time in strengthening our system for reducing flood risk. We must be strong in all fronts-in hazard forecasting, in early warning dissemination, and in preparedness and response at all levels. We must have an integrated flood forecasting, warning and response system that ensures a more efficient coordination among various agencies concerned in reducing flood losses,” Legarda concluded.