MANILA -- The Pantabangan Dam can irrigate its service areas in Central Luzon even until June when the drought-driving El Niño ends due to enough water reserve, a hydrologist said Thursday.
The dam's water level is still far from the critical low of 177 meters, said Richard Orendain of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
Orendain said Pantabangan's 6 a.m. water level on Thursday was at 204.12 meters, or 0.27 meters lower than its 204.39-meter elevation 24 hours earlier.
Water level dips are expected as Pantabangan releases water for power generation and irrigation, he said.
"Pantabangan is still operating normally," he said.
Further dips in Pantabangan's water level are likely as PAGASA forecast below-normal rainfall this March and April in the watershed hosting this dam. Orendain said it is unlikely for the reserve in Pantabangan to hit and breach the critical level.
"That dam can supply irrigation water even until El Niño's possible end in June," he said.
He said rain over the Pantabangan Dam and its watershed is already possible beginning May, helping enhance prospects for this facility's recovery.
PAGASA also forecast near-normal rainfall at the Pantabangan watershed in May and June, as well as above-normal rainfall in the area in July.
Built in the 1970s, Pantabangan Dam is considered one of Southeast Asia's largest dams. The dam began operating in 1977. (PNA)