By: Kristine Angeli Sabillo /

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NORZAGARAY, Bulacan — President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday visited this province for a briefing on the Angat Dam and Dyke Strengthening Project (ADDSP).

READ: Angat dam repair to start amid quake fears

The visit and the briefing was held a week before the Metro-wide quake drill, which will help communities near the West Valley Fault System prepare in case of a strong earthquake.

READ: Metro-wide quake drill on July 30 eyes 12M participants

Aquino was personally briefed by San Miguel Corporation (SMC) President Ramon Ang and Angat Hydropower Corporation (AHC) President Geung Jeon Hang at the viewing deck of the dam, which supplies around 97 percent of Metro Manila’s water needs.

The dam system is also responsible for the irrigation of 25,000 hectares of farm lands in Bulacan and Pampanga, power generation of 246 megawatts for the Luzon grid and for flood control.

The ADDSP is being funded and spearheaded by the AHC, which is co-owned by K-water and SMC Global Power through its subsidiary Power Ventures Energy Inc.

The AHC’s acquisition of the Angat Hydroelectric Power Plant (AHEPP) resulted in the company’s commitment to strengthen and maintain the dam system based on an assessment study conducted by independent engineering firm Poyry Energy Ltd.

The study showed that Angat Dam will remain safe in case of an extreme flood event as long as the three spillway gates remain functional. Meanwhile, in case of an earthquake, Poyry recommended increasing the clay portion of the main dam core by 1.3 meters to further strengthen the dam system. It also suggested the widening of the base and downstream slope of the dam and dykes using rockfill from a nearby quarry.

AHC estimates that the rehabilitation project will be completed within the next two years.

‘Conditionally poor’

In his speech, Aquino said it is the first time that the Angat Dam will undergo massive rehabilitation since it was constructed in the 1960s.

He said it was described as “conditionally poor” because of the lack of appropriate surveillance system and the questionable stability of the structure.

Aquino said the flooding that the dam may cause can affect up to three million residents of Bulacan and Pampanga.

“Tubig, kuryente, kabuhayan, at kaligtasan—sa saklaw na serbisyo’t benepisyo ng Angat Dam and Dike sa milyon-milyong Pilipino, talaga naman pong sulit na sulit ang bawat pisong ilalaan natin sa proyektong ito,” he explained.

(Water, electricity, livelihood and safety — such services and benefits brought about by the Angat Dam and Dike to millions of Filipinos shows that every peso allocated for this project will be spent well.)

Aquino said a budget of P1.08 billion will be allotted for the project to ensure that the dam can withstand a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

A P261-million flood forecasting and warning system will also be installed, in addition to P292 million worth of flood control protection works.

He said the rehabilitation will be part of the widespread reforms that he has instituted, including the formation of the Inter-Agency Committee on the Water Sector, which implements the Integrated Water Resources Management Policy.