Dam discharge advisories ironed out

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — A more systematic mode of issuing advisories on water dam discharge for Ambuklao and Binga Hydro-Electric Power Plants (HEP) is being ironed out to facilitate its dissemination to the public.

This was the highlight of the seminar workshop on Public Information and Education Drive on the Agno River Basin covering the Ambuklao and Binga HEP held recently.

A proposed dam discharge warning information network for both hydro power plants includes the affected barangays within the vicinity of Ambuklao in Bokod and Binga, including Dalupirip in Itogon, National Power Corporation (NPC), SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet (SNAPB), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC), Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (MDRRMC), Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (BDRRMC), and media.

The involved groups and offices will adopt any means of communication to link with each other such as mobile phones, landline phones, online, radio communications network.

The network is intended to facilitate the issuance of any discharge warnings to involved parties and receive feedback to improve disaster management particularly affected communities.

SNAPB issues dam discharge warning under normal conditions. But beyond or in extraordinary conditions, the Forecasting and Warning System for Dam Operation – National Power Corporation (FFWSDO-NPC) takes over the responsibility of issuing discharge warning.

Engineer Jose Lachica III of SNAP Benguet said FFWSDO-NPC takes over the issuing of dam discharge warning when there are triggering conditions such as discharge inflow reaches 500 cubic meters per second, 50 millimeters rainfall accumulated within 24 hours in any rain gauge station, the coordinates or eye of typhoon already identified, and intensive warning from Pagasa.

Lachica said one or a combination of the triggering conditions will be the basis of turn-over of responsibility of SNAPB to the FFWSDO-NPC.

SNAPB representative Jeff Ong stressed the need to be cautious in regulating the water carrying capacity of the dam if not the impact of damage would be greater.

At the local level, patrol vehicle and siren are still being used awaiting the automatic remote device which will be soon employed.

Some local officials who were present suggested the need for information drive at the community level on the warning devices currently utilized at the local level for better understanding. They say that mobile patrol warning issued should be distinguished from that of the ambulance otherwise it will cause confusion among the residents.

There is also a need to improve the warning system such as the volume of siren which is not audible for some residents located in the lower areas according to barangay officials.

The first warning will be issued four hours prior to water dam discharge for community to secure their properties and evacuate to higher grounds.

According to the NPC, there are four warnings issued as follows: Dam Discharge Warning No. 1 – when the water release from the dam spillway is decided to be undertaken; Dam Discharge Warning No. 2 – when the water release through the dam spillway is commenced; Dam Discharge Warning No. 3 – when the water release through the dam spillway is rapidly increased; and Termination – when the spillway gate is decided to be closed.

A drill on the discharge warning was held a day after the seminar workshop to determine the gaps in the flow of communicating information and how to address such. (Susan Aro)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 29, 2012.



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