President Aquino leads launch of irrigation, flood control project in Tarlac

(SAN JOSE, Tarlac) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday led the launch of the second phase of the Balog-Balog Multipurpose Project (BBMP), which is expected to supply irrigation water and mitigate flooding in Tarlac province.

“Ngayong araw po, minamarkahan natin ang simula ng isa na namang proyektong magdadala ng benepisyo sa ating mga Boss — ang Balog-Balog Multipurpose Project Phase 2,” the President said in his speech during the launch of the project.

“Panibagong patunay ito sa gobyernong tunay na nakatutok sa kanyang mandato — ang pagsilbihan at arugain ang atin pong taumbayan.”

The P13.3 billion irrigation project involves the construction of the Balog-Balog earth-filled dam in the upper Bulsa River, and irrigation canals and other structures.

Aside from helping boost the agriculture sector, the project’s benefits include flood control and mitigation, inland fish production, and possible power generation of about 43.5 megawatts.

The project, which will involve civil work, will benefit nine towns in Tarlac — Paniqui, Pura, Ramos, Victoria, Gerona, San Jose, Lapaz, Capas, and Concepcion, as well as Tarlac City.

Civil work covers the construction of a 105.5-meter tall dam, a diversion tunnel, the 60-kilometer (km) main irrigation canal, and the 248-km lateral canals.

The project also includes right of way acquisition, the creation of 140 irrigators’ associations in the nine towns and Tarlac City, the resettlement of 745 families, and the allocation of 2,000 hectares of land for watershed management.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said the construction of new canals will irrigate 21,935 hectares of new farming areas, including upland farming in San Jose.

It will also stabilize irrigation supply for 12,475 hectares in existing service areas in BBMP Phase 1, NIA said.

According to the agency, the project is also expected to boost cropping intensity in the project area from 124 percent to 200 percent, which will raise crop production and farm income levels.

The completion of the Balog-Balog Multipurpose Project will also boost eco-tourism in Tarlac, NIA said. PND (as)