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Cloud seeding operations report in Central Luzon

By Loraine D. Cerillo - Project Development Officer II
June 20, 2015

The Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM)has successfully conducted its Cloud Seeding Operations (CSO) in some provinces of Central Luzon particularly in Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija in partnership with the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and Royal Air Charter Services, Inc. on May 28 until June 18 of this year. The CSO targets to alleviate the effects of dry spell and to provide enough water supply for irrigation in Central Luzon. The BSWM Cloud Seeding Team is headed by Engineer Henry Cacayan, Chief, Agro-Hydrology and Rain Stimulation of the Water Resources Management Division.

According to Engr. Cacayan, the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija among its 21 municipalities experienced light to heavy rains with thunderstorms and ice crystals in some areas, particularly in Bulacan. The CSO lasted for approximately one hour to three hours for everyday flying hours of sorties based at Plaridel Airport.

The purpose of the CSO is to prepare the affected areas, in critical stage where there are standing crops and which are recently planted, for the upcoming cropping season, said Cacayan.

"For preparation itong sortie at saka may mga standing crops din...’Yung mga late na nagtanim ng palay, ‘yon din ‘yong nasa critical stage ngayon," he said.

Dr. Silvino Q. Tejada, BSWM Executive Director reported that the BSWM allotted at least 2.6 million pesos for a total of 60 flying hours of cloud seeding in Central Luzon. The project was coordinated with the Provincial Agriculture Office of Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija, Department of Agriculture’s Regional Office of Region 3 and the National Irrigation Administration - Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-UPRIIS).

Moreover, the BSWM also partnered with Salinas Corporation for a total of 766 bags of salts used for the sorties. Salinas Corporation is the recent affiliate of the BSWM for its cloud seeding operations. The company serves the basic needs of the different industries of the country through salt and allied strategic industries of water, food and feeds.

Fifteen days of CSO aim to slowdown the water level decline in Angat and Pantabangan dams which primarily supply the irrigation in Central Luzon. The effects of drought to a total of 260,000 hectares in Central Luzon are expected to decrease since the wet season has begun.

“…’yung bilis ng pagbaba ng water level sa Angat at saka Pantabangan, hindi natin ‘yon mapapataas kundi mapapabagal lang natin yung bilis ng pagbaba niya (ng tubig ng dams),” Cacayan explains.

Around 60 provinces have been affected by drought and dry spell according to PAG-ASA yet, it is expected that the number may decrease this month since the wet season has began. Rainfall is estimated at below normal due to the effect of the El Niño phenomenon ranging from weak to moderate status in May and August and may span up to the end of 2015. The PAGASA also reported that the problems regarding El Nino phenomenon will last until 2016.

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