La Mesa Dam breaches critical level

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz 

La Mesa Dam in Quezon City has reached its critical level of 68.93 meters on Monday, just 0.18 meters short of its record-low 68.75 meters registered in 1998.

According to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) hydrologist AileneAbelardo, La Mesa Dam has breached its 69-meter critical low water level on Monday morning.

Around 6 a.m. Monday, La Mesa Dam has reached 68.93 meters, down from last Sunday’s 69.02 meters. Its normal high water level is 80.15 meters.

Abelardo said the dam’s current level is only 0.18 meters below its lowest level of 68.75 meters in 1998.

Reduced rainfall is one of the most common impacts of an El Niño, and the country is currently affected by a weak El Niño event. The 1997-1998 El Niño occurrence was also among the strongest events in history.

Abelardo pointed out that PAGASA has observed a significant reduction in rainfall over the catchment area of La Mesa Dam since September 2018. “So in January this year, La Mesa Dam’s water level was at 74 to 75 meters, which is significantly lower than the previous years,” she said.

With the dam’s critical level, “there will be a limited” water source for a portion of Metro Manila’s water consumers.

However, the water level of Angat Dam, which supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s domestic water needs and irrigation for 27,000 hectares of farmlands in Bulacan and Pampanga, is “still high,” Abelardo said.

As of Monday, Angat Dam’s water level was 200.59 meters, or higher than its low water level of 180 meters.

PAGASA weather specialist LanieBitagun said there is a low chance of rainfall in Metro Manila, and most parts of Luzon and Visayas this Tuesday. (Manila Bulletin)