Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija—At least 100 people, including farmers and irrigation officials, were commissioned as spotters of clouds for a cloud seeding operation to boost Pantabangan Dam water reserve.
Engineer Rosalinda Bote, department manager of the National Irrigation Administration-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System, said that as of Saturday, the water level of Pantabangan Dam was at 182 meters above sea level (masl), way below the 201 masl by the start of September in 2019, and the 210 masl target by end-October.
“We organized almost 100 cloud spotters within Nueva Ecija,” Bote said, adding these people take real time photographs of clouds in their respective areas through GPS-enhanced phones.
The photos will be sent to the Bureau of Soils and Water Management of the Department of Agriculture for assessment and prioritization.
Bote said NIA administrator Ricardo Visaya has issued the green light to the activity to induce rains over the Pantabangan reservoir or watershed in preparation for the dry crop season of 2021.
The agency initially allocated P2.64 million from its calamity fund for the cloud seeding activity, with 900 bags of salt procured.
“We are surviving this wet season so far and at the same time there are those who are already harvesting,” Bote said, adding that almost 4,000 hectares of rice field have already been harvested.
Based on the advice of the government weather bureau, it expects slight La Niña from October this year to January of 2021.
But the scarcity of rains in the last months prompted the local government to turn to induced water to ensure they can irrigate the entirety of the 140,000 hectares service area come summer.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar earlier said cloud seeding will ensure a “respectable rice harvest in Central Luzon, particularly in Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Tarlac.”