Angat’s tributaries already dried up

Romi Garduce-led Greenpeace team investigates Matulid River

Feature story - April 19, 2010
Dried up tributaries indicate that the situation of Angat Dam can worsen in the next few weeks, Greenpeace said today, following the results of an expedition in the reservoir conducted last weekend by a team of Greenpeace volunteers accompanied by Filipino Mt. Everest summiteer Romi Garduce.

Greenpeace volunteers from the Water Watch Camp inspect the now dried up Matulid River, the largest tributary of the Angat Reservoir. A team of kayakers and mountaineers, assisted by Mt. Everest summiteer Romi Garduce, went around tributaries in Angat on April 17-18. Greenpeace is calling on Presidential candidates to prioritize water resource protection in their platforms, and to have a climate change vulnerabilities & hazards mapping during the first 100 days in office.

The expedition, conducted from April 17 to 18, inspected four of the dam's tributaries, including Matulid River, the largest. Parts of Matulid are completely without water, and its dried up river bed exposed. Greenpeace said that their expedition team, on board kayaks, was only able to venture a few hundred meters upstream along the river before encountering mud and the dried up river bed. The situation in smaller tributaries was worse.

"As we speak, the water level in Angat reservoir continues to decrease at a rate of one meter in less than five days. Greenpeace Water Watch is raising the alarm on the need to urgently secure our water sources. Angat is representative of the situation faced by the country's freshwater reserves. This crisis is not only a problem for Metro Manila which receives most of the Angat's water, but also a blow to agricultural areas everywhere as reservoirs around the country are slowly drying up," said Mark Dia, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Deputy Campaigns Director.

For the past week, Greenpeace had been monitoring the receding water levels in Angat, which breached the critical 180 masl (meters above sea level) point at 3:00pm on April 13. Precipitation, temperature, condensation and other climate related measurements were also monitored from the Greenpeace "Water Watch" camp in Angat as inputs to climate change impacts studies.

The camp was set up on April 12 by the Greenpeace Water Patrol and the National Power - Angat Watershed Area Team (AWAT), to help bring focus on the need to protect the country's fresh water resources, especially in light of the drought brought about by El Niño.

Last weekend, Greenpeace sent Garduce and a small team of mountaineers to cross the Kamanoyo mountains from Angat Reservoir to the sitio of Anoling on the other side of the reservoir.Garduce's team found that the river has shrunk to a very tiny stream with small patches of water, and could easily be crossed on foot.

"The Philippines' vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events such as this drought means that securing our water supply must be a top priority for the next government," added Dia. "But we have yet to hear from presidential candidates what they plan to do to address the crisis that is happening even while they are campaigning. The most urgent preventive measures, such as hazards assessment and the implementation of adaptation measures, as well as the upgrade of monitoring and warning systems for extreme weather events, must be among the top agenda in the next President's first 100 days in office. We shouldn't wait for the next crisis to act."

Starting this week, the Greenpeace Water Watch project will be moving from the Angat camp to a mobile station that will be investigating surrounding agricultural areas for the effects of El Niño and other extreme weather events on farmers and agricultural communities.

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