PHL’s biggest irrigation project seen to be completed ahead of schedule
ROSALES, Pangasinan— At the speed Chinese engineers are moving earth, rocks, cement and steel, the completion of the country’s biggest irrigation project is expected to come way, way ahead of schedule.
Already, since China Camce Engineering Co. Ltd. actually started work early last year on the 86-hectare re-regulating pond of the San Roque multipurpose dam in San Manuel, Pangasinan, considered the biggest hydroelectric power dam facility in Asia, 81 percent of the job has been finished.
The Chinese firm which won the bidding at a contract price of $93.8 million, went on three-work shifts immediately after laying the pond’s sprawling foundation, said Reynaldo Mencias, project manager of the Agno River Integration Irrigation Program (ARIIP).
“The Chinese engineers are all young, full of vitality and work on precision,” Mencias noted, as he pointed out that the accomplishment exceeds the expected target of 76 percent for the period.
“A little over $72 million has already been pumped into the project,” the ARIIP chief said.
Barring any untoward incidents, the big pond will start service operations in time with the main palay cropping season n June next year, Mencias said.
Mainly funded by a soft loan of $89.1 million with China Export-Import Bank, the commissioning of the re-regulating pond is expected to increase crop yield and cropping intensity by 150 percent with the full irrigation of 34,450 hectares of farmlands on opposite banks of the Agno River.
In cadence with the engineering works on the pond, ARIIP is rushing up the rehabilitation of 67.06 kilometers of existing main irrigation canals, along with 327.85 kilometers of lateral canals.
Some 280 kilometers of farm-to-market roads are also in simultaneous rehabilitation works in anticipation of the increased farming activities within ARIIP’s service area covering 28,207 farm families in 18 towns of Pangasinan.
At a total cost of P11.2 billion, ARIIP as an irrigation component of the San Roque multipurpose dam started in November 2006. The project is expected to go on full-swing services on or before December 2013 with the completion of rehabilitation works on all of ARIIP’s facilities.
According to Mencias, the rehabilitation of the irrigation system is funded by the national government at an estimated cost of P4.1 billion.
“As a reservoir, the re-regulating pond augments the dam’s flood prevention component as it will store 5 million cubic meters of water siphoned from the main dam structure,” Mencias said, as he stressed that the stored volume of water will be released for irrigation via the pond’s sluice way at an average of 560 cu. meter per second.
With the reservoir, the provincial government intends to siphon water from the facility to solve a water crisis now gripping households in 20 coastal towns of the province.
Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan said a memorandum of agreement signed recently with the National Irrigation Administration will allow the flow of at least five cu. cm. of water from the reservoir to the Pangasinan Bulk Water Supply Project which the provincial government has committed to build.
Under the scheme, the siphoned water will be rationed out to houses in towns and cities whose deep wells are now fast drying up and severely affected by salt-water intrusion.
But on top of everything, Mencias said the reservoir will be a stable source of water needed in palay production, vegetable growing and root-crop farming.