As heavy flooding swept some parts of the Cagayan Region due to heavy rains the past few days, the region sees clear days ahead at least in the next two years as the Department of Science and Technology and the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) of the Kingdom of Norway signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the improvement of the flood forecasting and warning system for the Magat Dam and downstream communities.
Present during the MOA signing was Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario G. Montejo; His Excellency Knut Solem, Ambassador of Norway to the Philippines; Mr. Kjell Repp, Manager of the International Affairs, NVE; and Dr. Nathaniel T. Servando, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Administrator of DOST’s Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
The project will enhance the flood forecasting and early warning capability of PAGASA in the Cagayan river basin and the Magat Dam operations. This will help reduce the loss of lives and damage to properties during floods brought about by heavy rains.
According to the MOA, the NOK 10,700,000 million project will help restore the telecommunication system and rehabilitate the monitoring facilities of the existing flood forecasting and warning system and the flood forecasting and warning system for dam operations. The MOA also covers the installation of additional monitoring stations.
DOST and NVE also greed to jointly conduct research on an integrated weather and flood forecasting system; establish a decision support system; and conduct training and capacity building activities, as well as intensive public information drives and campaigns for stakeholders and the public.
“DOST fully supports the continued enhancement and strengthening of PAGASA’S flood forecasting capability through the continued upgrading of its existing observing equipment and facilities, including the Magat Dam Flood Forecasting and Warning System. This will help improve the issuance of timely and accurate flood forecasts and warnings particularly in the Cagayan river basin, and will bring about a more effective operation of the Magat dam spillway for the safety of the communities in the downstream area,” said DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo.
Meanwhile, NVE International Affairs Manager Kjell Repp was glad at the joint undertaking between Norway and the Philippines. He said that the project is a great opportunity to learn the expertise and technology of each country. “With climate change on the rise, we (Norwegians) might have a similar situation in the future,” he said.
Ms. Margie Bautista, Chief of PAGASA’s Hydro Meteorological Data Application of the Hydrometeorology Division, said that Cagayan Valley, specifically in the province of Isabela, has recently experienced a 12.7 meters of flood water due to the tail of cold front. It is the highest recorded water level rise in the region after more than two decades. Previous records posted a 12.5-meter rise during a typhoon. She added that with the implementation of this project, new communication link between the Magat – Tuguegarao flood forecasting stations will be established. Previously, only the PAGASA central office and the Tuguegarao station had existing link that relays important hydrometerological data.