NIA to harness irrigation water, more hydropower projects eyed

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 10:12


NIA, Quezon City - The National Irrigation Administration is currently embarking on the benefits of developing and constructing hydropower projects on its existing irrigation systems and future irrigation projects all throughout the country.

According to the previous studies conducted by the agency, there are about 357 potential irrigation sites for hydropower. This means that NIA aside from providing sustainable and efficient irrigation services can actually be an active partner for power generation.

Earlier this week, NIA Administrator Gen. Ricardo Visaya led the signing of MOA together with Nascent Technologies Corp. for the development and construction of 0.4 MW Barit Irrig. Discharge Hydroelectric Power plant pegged at P27.6 million.

The Irrigation chief cited Rizal Hydropower Project as one of the successful partnerships in hydropower development projects. The 1-MW hydropower started its commercial operation this year. It is located near the main canal of Pampanga River Irrigation System (PRIS), Nueva Ecija.

“This is part of the continuous effort of the agency to support the administration in providing more renewable energy sources that will not just only boost NIA's income but also will contribute to the provision of electricity in far-flung communities in the country”, he added

Other on-going hydropower projects include 8.5MW MARIS Main (South) Canal Hydroelectric Power located in Isabela with target commercial operation on February 2018. Both Marbel # 1 Mini Hydropower Project in South Cotabato and Butao Irrigation Drop Mini Hydropower Project in Pangasinan were approved and signed (MOA) along with their respective developers.

Negotiations are still on the table for 630KW Munoz Hydropower Project in Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System, Nueva Ecija; the 1 MW Bulanao Mini-Hydropower Plant in Chico River Irrigation System, Kalinga; 3.6 MW Addalam Hydroelectric Project in Addalam River Irrigation Project, Quirino in which comprehensive study was conducted last year; and Agno RIS main canal in Agno River Integrated System, Pangasinan.

The NIA administrator assured the farmers that the mini hydros will not affect irrigation component as the water will just pass thru the irrigation canal.

“There is no conflict with power generation and irrigation it is just a matter of getting the most out of our water resource. We are optimistic that this endeavor will take off and will ensure smooth implementation and optimum results”, he told

The development and construction of hydropower projects is align with Presidential Decree (PD) No. 552, Section 2C dated September 11, 1974 which gives NIA the directive to achieve the optimum utilization and control of water resources primarily for Irrigation purposes, secondarily for Hydraulic Power Development and for Domestic Water supply and others.

Cited as the legal basis for these are RA 9513 – "Renewable Energy Act of 2008" and RA 7156 – "Mini-hydroelectric Power Incentives Act". NIA issued Memorandum Circular No. 55 S 2011 that defines the guidelines on Mini Hydro-power Plants in NIA irrigation canals/systems.