Cloud seeding to produce rain has been scheduled by the Puerto Princesa City Water District (PPCWD), hoping to increase the water supply in its main source in the Campo Uno dam in Barangay Irawan.
City water district acting information officer Jenn Rausa said Thursday “if nothing untoward happens” on May 8, the artificial rain-making method will be carried out since “seedable clouds” have already been identified by the ground assessment team from the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) over Campo Uno.
She said an engineer of the BSWM team said cloud seeding is possible after surveying on April 29 to May 3.
“Positive naman sa kanya, marami naman seedable clouds. Nanggaling sa kanya yon, nag-start na kami makipag-coordinate sa private aircraft para magamit, so meron na rin tayong aircraft, may sini-secure na lang tayo na clearance sa CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines),” she said.
As initially reported, the PPCWD will spend about P2.2 million for the first cloud seeding to be conducted in the city under a 40-hour contract.
Rausa clarified that the expenses for the cloud seeding operation will not be charged to the consumers.
“Iyong ulan na ‘yon ay walang kasiguraduhan kung darating ba at kung dumating man di pa rin enough para magkatubig doon sa atin. Actually, nakaraan umaambon-ambon sa Campo Uno, maganda naman na may forecast sila, sana matuloy na rin ang ulan pero sabi nga namin dito, nandito na tayo, may budget na. Willing na tayo gumastos, hindi natin ‘yon iba-back out dahil lang sa isang ulan na ‘yon,” Rausa pointed out.
Local Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) chief Sonny Pajarilla, meanwhile, pointed out that cloud seeding will undoubtedly work, but it might have a rare chance of falling in the target area in Campo Uno.
He added the “rare chance” is also because Palawan is smaller compared to the width of Luzon and Mindanao.
He further explained that rain will pour after 30-40 minutes of seeding the powdered salt into the clouds, but due to the prevailing easterlies winds, they might move away from Campo Uno to the other side after 30 minutes.
“Ang cloud seeding talaga, suntok sa buwan ‘yan lalo na sa atin na maliit na isla. Ang cloud seeding ay may cloud na dapat, tinatawag na seedable cloud ibig sabihin potential to be developed. Mayroon siya na sufficient na moisture, kailangan mo lang tulungan ng condensation nuclei which ang ginagamit natin ngayon ay 30 over 80 microns ng powdered salt,” Pajarilla said.
After the first cloud seeding, research will be conducted to see if the expenses equate with the benefits and the success of the said operation.
Pajarilla mentioned PAGASA has provided technical analysis and atmospheric expertise as support to the operation and stressed that the continuation of the cloud seeding is still upon the decision of the PPCWD management.
“Ako as a meteorologist, talagang 50-50 ako doon dahil sa liit ng isla natin, hindi ako na sige go, dahil sa nipis ng ating isla kumpara sa Mindanao, sa Luzon, malalaking isla yon, malalapad ang catching basin doon so anyway, we provide technical analysis,” he stressed.
Pajarilla stated that the high-pressure system that is considered the source of “habagat” (south west monsoon) is now starting to build up and chances of rain are usually observed during the third to last week of May up to June.
“Dito sa Palawan, hindi pa ito sinubukan, saka pa natin sasabihin kung ano ang success rate, yon nga lang scientifically and technically speaking, medyo ang cost and benefit na ratio baka hindi mag-ano, ang pagpapaulan, tiyak yon, ang tanong lang kung doon uulan sa gusto natin bagsakan,” Pajarilla said.
Rausa said they are aware that it might be impossible to centralize the rain to fall on Campo Uno but based on estimates, it will pour within the shed area.
“Hindi naman (directl basta within sa watershed area na hindi rin masyadong malayo, sabi nga rin nila, imposible talaga na hundred percent doon ang bagsak. Kung meron man, paswertehan lang sa dam natin sa Campo Uno. Since ang ilog naman natin dyan sa Irawan, tuloy-tuloy naman ‘yan, hanggang taas ‘yan. Kahit saan ‘yan bumagsak doon basta may ilog magflo-flow doon sa Campo Uno natin,” she said.
The PPCWD will be oriented by the BSWM in the morning on May 7 and the city water district will have information dissemination to the residents of Irawan in the afternoon.
Rausa said the cloud seeding will be conducted at a maximum of two hours a day.