by April Pearl Naguita

The NIA Region XI, Davao del Norte Irrigation Management Office (IMO) launched an Automated Diversion Dam of Lasang RIS on February 25, 2021 at the dam site located in Brgy. Manay, Panabo City. After the blessing and the cutting of ribbons, Regional Manager Jimmy L. Apostol led the ceremonial turnover of the symbolic key to Lasang Chapter Federation of Irrigators' Association (LACFIA) President Mr. Marcelo F. Manua representing the farmer beneficiaries.

Lasang RIS has a service area of 4,928.92 hectares with 1,931 farmer beneficiaries and regarded as the first national irrigation system automated diversion dam in the entire Davao Region, the project entailed an amount of Php 22 million- the first of the three packages of Lasang RIS Improvement Project under CY 2016 where scope of works included retrofitting of diversion dam and its electro-mechanical works. The Planning and Design Section of NIA XI undertook the detailed engineering design of structural component, while the Central Office, Design and Specifications Division designed the electro-mechanical works.

The automation system of the diversion dam gates is controlled by an artificial intelligence intended to operate gates dependent on the water level condition. The water level is monitored through advanced electronic sensors activated by electric drive motors powered by the grid. To ensure that it runs continuously and without interruption, it is connected to a standby diesel generator. The system for Lasang RIS still allows human machine interface and manual control override.

Davao del Norte IMO Division Manager Larry C. Franada explained during his presentation of the project profile that before the retrofitting, the manual process of either opening or closing the steel gates took two days owing to the size and the ten gates in the system. Now that the Lasang RIS dam has modernized, the biggest steel gate would just take 10 minutes to open or close, and the smallest would only run for about 5 minutes.

The automation happens when, as the water rises yet before reaching to levels greater than the dam could hold, the sluice gates would automatically open to release water from the dam, and simultaneously the intake gates would close to avoid overflowing of the main canals that could flood the receiving farms. Inversely, at normal water levels, the sluice gates are closed while water flows freely through the intake gates to the main canals and down to irrigate the farms.

Also present during the launching were Davao del Norte Second District Board Member Hon. Franklin D. Gentiles, Manay Barangay Captain Raul Mahipus, COA representative Mercedita Atanosa, and the contractor Mesagon Builders, Inc. represented by the owner Walter Gonzales.

RM Apostol underscored one of the 4-point agenda of the Administrator which is to improve delivery of services through modernization of equipment for operations and project implementation. Thus, having finally launched the first of its kind in Davao Region, more projects on steel gates automation are underway prioritizing the national irrigation systems. 

The Davao del Norte IMO showcased an actual testing of the automated dam both of the intake gates and sluice gates.