Temporary closure of Bulanao hydroelectric plant pressed

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TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The Upper Chico River Irrigation System Tabuk and Pinukpuk Federation of Irrigators Associations, Inc. reminded the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) on the recommended temporary closure of the operation of the Bulanao Hydroelectric Power Plant (BHEPP) along the main diversion canal of the agency’s Kalinga Irrigation Management Office situated in Bulanao here.

Under Irrigation Administration (IA) Joint Resolution No. 01, series of 2020, the group stated that the presidents of UCRIS Irrigators Association reportedly received a letter from Engr. Daniel C. Peckley, Jr., general manager of DPJ Engineers and Consultant, stating the company’s alleged resistance to comply with the agreements during previous meetings for the temporary closure of the existing hydro power plant that was erected within the main diversion canal with noted violations.

The UCRIS has a total firmed up service area (FUSA) of 15,794.5 hectares of farmlands both in the city and the nearby Pinukpuk town and Quezon and Mallig, Isabela and irrigated area as of wet season is 11,000 hectares.

The resolution pointed out that irrigation water is reportedly deficient at the downstream portion of UCRIS, particularly at barangays Nambaran, Agbannawag and Lacnog in the city Quezon and Mallig in Isabela.

The group claimed that the operation of the Bulanao hydro power plant has an alleged negative effect on land irrigation development within the UCRIS service area.

According to the resolution, as per agreements during a previous meeting, the Bulanao hydro power plant shall comply with all the agreements made during the joint meeting with the local government, NIA, DPJ and the Irrigators Associations where it was agreed that there will be a temporary closure of the operation of the power plant until all the raised issues and concerns shall have been addressed.

Earlier, the NIA received an anonymous complaint on the operation of the 1 megawatt Bulanao hydro power plant where issues raised include the fact that the company allegedly built a larger head gate in lieu of the original TSC No. 1 lateral head gate that constricted the flow of irrigation water to the irrigated farmlands.

Based on a joint investigation report conducted by representatives from the NIA, IA, DPJ and local government unit, the power plant constructed a new diversion intake upstream of the original TSC No. 1 lateral head gate.

The report added that the representatives of the joint inspection team agreed for the repair and modification of the existing head gate of the power plant by permanent wielding so the water diverted shall be controlled to its maximum allowable discharge of 4.50 cubic meters per second or equivalent to 1.20 meters gauge height only or lesser volume as per the water requirement of standing crops being serviced by the Tabuk Supply Canal No. 1.

Further, the team pointed out that fixed height of the intake gate at maximum gauge height of 1.20 meters shall be observed to avoid over diversion into the head gate of the power plant and subsequent flooding in the NIA service road and nearby community of Bulanao Norte.

The team also found out that the company built a fence enclosing the whole area of the power plant which allegedly impedes the NIA and IA in going to the said area thereby depriving NIA personnel from having access to the intake gate of TSC No. 1.

Moreover, the gatekeeper of the said 10-meter concrete fence are from the company, thus, it was agreed by the team that the entry and exit gates across the NIA service road should be removed for access of going in to the head gate of TSC No. 1 and the plant’s head gate.

It was also agreed that the NIA has the sole authority to control any opening of the plant’s head gate and diversion is limited to a maximum discharge of 4.50 cubic meters per second or lesser as per water crop requirement under the supervision of the operations personnel of UCRIS and that total closure of the plant’s spillway through concreting to stop the spilling along the NIA service road and flooding on the nearby community.

Regarding the non-stop flow of water even during harvest season and the drastic reduction on the volume of water, the NIA operations personnel should constantly monitor the discharge flow of the TSC No. 1 to ensure that the irrigation water requirement of standing crops at the different stages of fanning is adequately supplied.

Due to the limited discharge at the UCRIS intake dam during the dry season coupled with the lapses on the operation of the power plant and the TSC No. 1, some portions of the system, especially at the tail end or downstream areas in barangays Agbannawag, Nambaran and Lacnog of the city; and Quezon and Mallig, Isabela experience less irrigation water, thus, the company should observe strict compliance of the operation’s protocol on water diversion at the plant so that issues will also be considered. By HENT