P190-M rubber dams inaugurated
Legazpi City (20 September) -- "It's a whale! It's a giant snake! No, it's a rubber dam!
Thus exclaimed local government officials and residents as a massive rubber tube that snaked through a wide expanse in Barangay Busac, Oas, Albay rise on the ground as air was being pumped in it until it resembled a mini water reservoir.
Local farmers suddenly whooped up in joy as their prayers were finally answered after 10 years of waiting with the inauguration last week of the two dams made of synthetic rubber, the first in the country. The other one is located in Barangay Tastas, Ligao City, also in Albay.
"A dam out of rubber?" That's amazing! I've never seen anything like that before," Vicente M. Caguilo, Jr., a government employee, said.
"I thought we're watching a sci-fi movie in the making. First, there was a hissing sound. It turned out to be coming from a mechanical air pump. Then, all of a sudden, the rubber dam was slowly rising up. I thought Anaconda came alive," he added.
The first rubber dam, the South Quinale Communal Irrigation System, is located in Barangay Busac. Measuring two meters in height and 51.6 meters in length, it could service 1,174 hectares of farmlands in barangays Maruyad, San Isidro, Bacolod, San Vicente, Linao and Bunsood, which make up the Big Six Reform Community in Libon, Albay.
The second one, the two meter high and 34 meter long Cabilogan-San Juan CIS, could irrigate 793 hectares in barangays Unaliw, San Juan, Talongog, Bongoran and San Vicente in Oas, and barangays Bobonsuran, Tinampo and Cavasi in Ligao City.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandanan urged farmer-beneficiaries to take good care of the two rubber dams, with combine value of P190 million. He said it is part of the Arroyo government's thrust of modernizing the agriculture industry to make it at par with its Asian neighbors.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation-Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project II (JBIC-ARISP2) jointly implemented the project in cooperation with the provincial government of Albay, which contributed P41.5 million as counterpart equity.
National Irrigation Administration provincial officer Gemeniano Panton said the dam could be fully inflated in less than an hour. He added that it automatically deflates when water level upstream rise 40 centimeters high above the crest, which normally occurs during the rainy season, to protect it from damages.
Besides being less expensive and beneficial to farming, Panton said the rubber dam could also help provide hydroelectric power. (PIA) [top]