Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Irrigation agency set to build P1-B dam for Leyte’s rice areas

S. Q. Meniano

TACLOBAN CITY -- The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will build next year a P1.1-billion dam that will store water to irrigate 3,000 hectares of farms throughout the year.

"This will be the first earth-filled storage dam to be constructed in Leyte," NIA regional manager Romeo G. Quiza told journalists here recently.

The Hibulangan Small Reservoir Irrigation Project, which will be implemented in Villaba town in Leyte, will involve the construction of a 35.5-meter earth-filled dam with storage capacity of about 10.8 million cubic meters of water.

It will irrigate the farms in the towns of Villaba, Matagob and Matalom, which are known as the rice-producing areas in Leyte.

Mr. Quiza said the project is designed to mitigate the impact of climate change. "Because of climate change, we expect prolonged dry spell or longer rainy days. We need a storage dam to store water during the wet season and release it during the dry season," he said.

The Regional Development Council endorsed the project last week for implementation early next year.

The reservoir will be located in Barangay Sulpa, Villaba, Leyte.

A network of irrigation canals will carry water to farmlands in barangays Hibulangan, Bugabuga, Tumamak, Sta. Cruz, and Capinahan, all in Villaba municipality.

Service roads will be built on the bank of the canals.

"Also, the project envisions to provide the community an opportunity to engage in inland fish production within the reservoir area. This project will boost the socioeconomic status of farmer-beneficiaries in the area," Mr. Quiza said.

The dam is scheduled to be completed in two to three years, depending on availability of funds from the national government.

It is among the eight Small Irrigation Reservoir Irrigation Projects in a list of 28 projects that were endorsed to the National Economic and Development Authority for submission to the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

The project was also one of the four priority irrigation projects in the Regional Development Plan 2004-2010 that was deemed vital to the region’s economic expansion. Other priority irrigation projects are located in Catarman-Bobon in Northern Samar, Dolores in Eastern Samar, and Basey in Samar.

Leyte accounts for two-thirds of the region’s annual rice output. The province has 4,500 hectares of irrigated farms. Eastern Visayas has a total rice area of 160,000 hectares, of which 57,000 hectares are covered by irrigation systems.

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