Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi said that the building of an “upstream” dam along the Magat River before the existing Magat Dam would be a solution to the perennial flooding problem in Cagayan Valley.
Cusi brought up the idea in a briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte and other cabinet members in Tuguegarao City on Sunday.
The secretary said there is an existing dam project in the area, which the Department of Energy has certified as a “project of national significance” given its power production and flood mitigation potential.
While the project was approved by concerned local government units, it is being opposed by indigenous peoples.
The Magat River flows from Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya before running along the Isabela-Ifugao boundary, where the Magat Dam is located. When deemed necessary, the dam releases water into the rest of the river until it meets the Cagayan River, the country’s longest and largest river.
While the Magat Dam complex houses a hydroelectric power plant run by SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP), the National Irrigation Authority is the agency that releases water upon the directive of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
Several sectors have pinned the blame on the Magat Dam’s water discharge for the flooding in Cagayan and Isabela. SNAP has denied any involvement with the water release.