Magat Dam

Satellite image of a portion of Magat Dam in Ramon, Isabela (and Alfonso Lista, Ifugao).

Magat Dam in Ramon, Isabela used to be the largest dam in the Philippines back when it was built in 1983. The controversial San Roque Dam (featured previously) has since eclipsed it in both structural and reservoir size in 2004. Magat Dam generates 360 megawatts of electricity (with a water head of 81 meters high) and supplies irrigation water for approximately 85,000 hectares of farmland in Isabela and surrounding areas.

The dam was constructed at a cost of 6.5 billion pesos and consists of 3.1 kilometers of rock-fill construction. The dam and its watershed is managed by the National Irrigation Authority (NIA), while the National Power Corporation (NPC) managed the hydroelectric plant, before the plant was turned over to SN Aboitiz Power Inc. in April 2007 as part of the privatization of power plants under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.

Aerial shot of Magat Dam. Photo from the Department of Tourism webpage on Isabela.

Like the San Roque Dam, Magat Dam had its share of controversies, issues, and problems. For one, the reservoir inundated the traditional lands of the Ifugao tribes. Second, the useful lifespan of the dam was shortened from 50 years to around 35 years because of increased sedimentation in the reservoir (aggravated by the massive 1990 Luzon earthquake) and damage to the dam itself. Finally, Magat River, which is the river dammed, forms the boundary between the provinces of Ifugao and Isabela. Well, you can correctly guess that there’s a dispute between Ifugao and Isabela regarding with the dam: Ifugao is contesting the tax proceeds from the privatization of the hydroelectric plant and the compromise reached was that the two provinces would share equally in the tax revenue.

Magat Dam is also one of the prominent tourist spots in Isabela. The Magat Dam Tourism Complex promotes ecotourism with various watersports activities in the Magat Dam reservoir.

If you look at the Google Maps view of the dam, you can see the extent of the reservoir (4,450 hectares). And if you look about two kilometers downstream (east) from the dam, you can see Maris Dam, a subsidiary dam that helps regulate water level below the main dam for hydroelectric purposes. Why Maris? Well, Maris stands for Magat River Irrigation System.

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Posted on
April 20, 2008
Filed under
Cagayan ValleyDams
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  1. meg wrote on January 26, 2010 @ 08:43AM

    I’ve been here as well..Although I was still in Grade 6 during that time. The memories are still fresh. I like the excitement it gave me, we were allowed to go down on the rocky slopes.

  2. eloy wrote on March 15, 2010 @ 11:07PM

    The Magat Dam is already a disaster in terms of its intended purpose of providing irrigation and hydro electric power. As a tourist destination it would have been developed like any eco tourism place. It has brought more problems to our socio-economic condition than good. Because of too much corruption in the government, it is left doomed to be useless. The earthquake in the 1990’s shortened its lifespan by 20 years (built in 1983). Legal and illegal logging silted its basin. Uncontrolled fishpens polluted its waters. Privatization (through Epira 2007) provided for more avenues of inefficient control and national measures. Not to mention the quarrel between the two provinces (Isabela and Ifugao) over taxes paid by NPC. Worst, the DENR is left inutile in maintaining its watershed. Land around or within it are now in the hands of corrupt individuals mostly by politicians and people in government. Even individuals awarded with stewardship certificates to plant and green their areas are not doing it to maintain the watersheds.

  3. Christopher wrote on March 16, 2010 @ 10:26PM

    The available energy potential at Baligatan, a 6 MW hydroelectric power plant at Baligatan outlet works was constructed to supply the power requirement to operate three pumping stations located in the magat service area for the irrigation of some 8,000 hectares situated at higher elevation. The magat flood forecasting and warning system is equipped with sophisticated hydrometeorological devices, modern communication equipment and a computerized central receiver. For the extension of electric services, the NIA initiated and assisted the settlers in formalizing application with ISELCO, the franchise holder in the area.

  4. 9g visa philippines wrote on April 14, 2010 @ 06:23AM

    Magat Dam is located in the largest island of the Philippines that is Luzon. Not only does it benefit agricultural land, but it also caters as a tourist spot for the Philippines.

  5. jegeon padua wrote on May 4, 2010 @ 07:32PM

    magat dam is very nice place for tourism, but if they not mantain the deep of water in area, maybe 5 to 10 years from now it will gave a problem to us usually in cagayan province.

  6. Francis wrote on August 8, 2011 @ 10:42AM

    Would anyboy know if this s still open to he public? Any accomodations inside the complex? Thanks.


  7. juliver tomas wrote on August 12, 2011 @ 08:07PM

    yeah, I’ve been to Magat Dam too. It’s an incomparable dam. We had a lot of pictures there with my friends, schoolmates and with our teachers. I’m proud to be a Filipino. I love the Dam. I want to go again there. But I want to visit the main office of the Dam, not only on the road going to the Dam. We want to go there but we dont have enough time when we went there. So we will again soon got there.

  8. Wigan wrote on December 28, 2015 @ 04:57PM

    Magat dam was built in 1983 so 32 years of age, we still have 18 years more to enjoy the electricity that generate by these dam of the other hand the contesting of the tax and the boundary between the provinces of Ifugao and Isabela still unsettle up to date?

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