Dam Must Save Lives and Livelihoods, said Senator Legarda


Senator Loren Legarda called on the National Power Corporation (Napocor) to ensure that the updated protocols on dam water releases would no longer pose risks to the lives and livelihood of people in affected areas.

Legarda made the call as communities in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan remain submerged in floodwaters even as Napocor said it has already updated its protocol for dam water release.

"Napocor said it has updated its dam protocols, but the current situation in some provinces in Luzon show the need to review the actual implementation of such procedures as lives and livelihood of citizens in affected towns continue to be at risk," she said.

"Updated dam protocols and improved coordination among disaster preparedness agencies and dam operators must serve their purpose of reducing, and not worsening, disaster impacts. Two years have passed since Ondoy but we are, time and again, reminded of it everytime dam floodgates open," she added.

The Senator explained that the critical gaps in operational, scientific and institutional capacity can lead to increasing the vulnerability of the poorest sectors--those living in high-risk areas and whose livelihoods are at the mercy of extreme weather events.

"As dams reach spilling levels due to heavy rains, it must be ensured by the operators 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, our local governments must make sure that flood warnings are heeded by the communities," she stressed.

Legarda also urged the Department of Energy and dam operators -- NAPOCOR, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to come up with a clear strategy on channeling excess water from the dams so that it can be used productively instead of causing devastating flood in areas where it passes through.

"We have excess water in our dams when heavy rains pour but some communities are still in dire need of water. We must make these two ends meet and create a plan on how we can make good use of the water released from dams," Legarda concluded.