NIA wants irrigation part of hydro power projects

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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA-CAR) wants hydropower developers to incorporate the irrigation component in their plans to maximize the use of the rich water resources of the region in spurring the growth of agriculture.

Engr. John M. Socalo, NIA-CAR regional irrigation manager, said it would be beneficial for all for hydropower plant developers to integrate, as a component in their future projects, the irrigation system to maximize the water in the river systems for various purposes and help spur the  economic activities in their proposed areas of operation.

“We want hydropower developers to venture on multipurpose projects with irrigation as one of the major components of their projects so as not to waste of abundant water flowing into the major river systems that trace their watersheds from the Cordillera mountain ranges. Farmers in the lowlands need abundant water for irrigation, especially during the dry months, so it is best for hydropower developers to maximize the use of their systems for irrigation and other needs, particularly the supply of potable water,” Socalo stressed.

The NIA-CAR official cited as one of the best examples the Magat River Irrigation System (MARIS) which has both components of power generation and irrigation serving the needs of thousands of farmers in various parts of Ifugao and the Cagayan Valley provinces.

Further, Socalo also noted the operation of the 1-megawatt mini-hydropower plant near the Upper Chico River Irrigation System (UCRIS) canals in Tabuk City, Kalinga which makes use of the water from the irrigation canals to generate power.

By doing so, he explained, hydropower developers will address one of the major needs of farmers with farms below the power plants because the irrigation component of their facility can effectively and efficiently be addressed lessening the burden from the agency on having to construct multi-million irrigation system projects just to provide farmers with year-round supply of water.

Socalo expressed optimism that future irrigation projects will adopt the operation of mini-hydropower plants once there will be interested developers so that water from the river systems is maximized for the benefit of  more communities.

Aside from being able to get a share from the irrigation projects-cum-mini-hydropower plants, host communities will be able to get a share from the operation of the power plants that can increase their internally generated.

He urged mini-hydropower developers to consider his proposal to include irrigation as an integral part of their future projects in the different parts of the region so that the potentials of river systems to produce renewable energy is maximized and availed of by the beneficiaries.

By HENT

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