NIA calls for 'massive' reforestation as Cagayan gov urges Magat watershed improvement

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2020 11:52 AM

Floodwater remains between around a cluster of houses in Anafunan East in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, with water levels ranging from knee to waist-deep, on November 16, 2020. Water levels during Typhoon Ulysses were higher than expected despite residents' history and preparedness for floods in the area. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The National Irrigation Administration said Tuesday "massive" reforestation is needed, as the governor of Cagayan province called for the urgent improvement of the Magat watershed.

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba has said release of water from the Magat Dam while Cagayan River was swelling was one of the main reasons the province was inundated last week as Typhoon Ulysses crossed Luzon.

Magat River, where the dam is located, is one of several other tributaries that lead to the Cagayan River.

"I believe that they could not control 'yung ilalabas nila because of the watershed. Kung hindi nila kayang pagandahin yung watershed na yan, sa ayaw at sa gusto nila ay hindi mako-control ang influx of water into the town and the release because they have to do something for it (the dam) not to burst," he told ANC's Headstart.

"The most important part of all of this para maganda ang control niyo d'yan is the watershed, kasi kami talaga ang mahihirapan dito," he said.

(I believe they could not control the water they had to release because of the watershed. If they don't improve the watershed, whether they like it or not, they will not be able to control the influx of water into the town and release because they have to do something for the dam not to burst. The most important part for them to control is the watershed, because we will have to bear the brunt.)

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Eduardo Ramos, dam and reservoir division manager of NIA, said the agency is now giving attention to improving the watershed.

"Mahina na po ang water-holding capacity ng mga bundok natin kasi wala nang mga kahoy, wala nang mga roots...Kailangan talagang massive reforestation ang gawin natin," he said in the same interview.

(The water-holding capacity in our mountains is weak because there are no more trees, no more roots. We really need to do massive reforestation.)

NIA is in charge of some 7,500 hectares of the shed, while the Department of Environment and Natural Resources takes care of the remaining area, said Ramos.

Government may also want to study dredging in Cagayan River, which he said was wide but not deep.

Flooding in Cagayan was the worst recorded in the last 4 decades. It has killed at least 9 in the said province. 

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