February 24, 2024

The Sectoral Committee on Watershed and Environmental Management (SeCom-WEM) of the Regional Development Council has favorably endorsed the Ilocos Norte-Ilocos Sur-Abra Irrigation Project (INISAIP) to the RDC Executive Committee for approval.

This was done during the Secom meeting  presided by Shontoug Foundation, Inc. President and WEM Co-Chairperson, Dr. Julie C. Cabato with Environment Management Bureau-Cordillera OIC Director Jean Borromeo and National Irrigation Administration Regional Manager Benito Espique, Jr. 

NIA-INISAIP Acting Project Manager Weynard Joseph Untalan reported the INISAIP is a P25.7-billion NIA project that aims to irrigate 14,672 hectares of farmlands benefitting 23,665 farmer-beneficiaries in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur with the construction of storage dam with hydropower, after bay dam and diversion dams along the Palsuguan River in Lagayan, Abra.

Untalan said the INISAIP is a six-year project that has a hydropower generation component with the construction of two hydropower plants in Ilocos Norte, the Bonga station with 14 megawatts capacity and the New Era station with 6.8MW capacity totaling to an annual energy production of 121.68 gigawatt hours.

In a project brief provided by NEDA, NIA presented the project to the Abra Provincial Development Council on Feb. 5, 2020 but failed to secure its endorsement due to the issue on the lack of benefits to the host community and LGU hosting the dam and other irrigation facilities.

The province will also not directly benefit from the establishment of the hydropower plants and requested that one of the hydropower plants be constructed in Abra.

To provide irrigation services to Abra, the NIA central office offered the construction of two irrigation systems, the Palsiguan River Irrigation Project and the Soot River Irrigation Project.

After a series of dialogues meetings between NIA central office and Abra in the early part of 2023, NIA reconfigured and reformulated the INISAIP detailed engineering design to relocate the hydropower plant site in Abra.

With this development, Abra issued its endorsement to INISAIP through PDC Resolution 1, s. 2023, with the following conditions: Implementation of the following programs and projects; Relocation of INISAIP Hydropower plant (Bonga Station and Nueva Era Station) in Abra; Soot River Irrigation System in La Paz, Abra; Palsuguan River Irrigation System in Lagayan, Abra; Priority implementation of regular NIA projects from 2023 to 2028; exploration of possible implementation of Tineg-Palsuguan River Integrated Irrigation Project in Tineg; and preferential employment of Abreños during the implementation of INISAIP.

Also present during the meeting were representatives of LGU Baguio, Benguet, and Abra; various regional line agencies and offices; private sector representatives, Baguio Water District, and SN Aboitiz. – Maria Aprila W. Cruz