Sta Barbara Dam and Irrigation System: Almost century-old but still amazing
Iloilo I LOVE! visits the 90 year-old Sta Barbara Dam and Irrigation. The exploration was flattering as they were pampered by the beauty of the scene and the relaxing feeling brought by the gentle flow of the river and cool mountain breeze. Read the journey below.
We were on our way back to the city when my companion asked me if there are still itineraries for Sta Barbara. I answered, “there’s a very old dam here, but i really don’t know where that is exactly.” Curious and wondering what it looked like, we turned the car and headed back to the town. We asked directions and we were told that the dam is somewhere near the road going to New Lucena. So I stepped on the gas, quite not sure where to find Sta. Barbara’s old dam.
We were crossing the bridge across Tigum river when we stopped for directions and the hospitable residents quickly pointed us to a rock road going to Brgy Sangcate. I thought it could be reached by walking but we were told it was almost a kilometer away.
We traversed the narrow and dirty road along the irrigation canal both with excitement and caution. Along the road at Bgy Tungay, we saw the Cotton Development Administration field operations center where the government is planning to grow bt variety of cotton.
After almost ten to fifteen minutes of driving, the road separated from the irrigation canal and we decided to pull over. What I saw stunned me – beautiful scenery of Tigum river with eroded land in a backdrop of tree-covered mountain and cloud-filled blue sky. Downriver, we saw the gates of the Sta. Barbara Dam, and walking a little distance we’re at the irrigation complex.
The structure was simple in design but very well maintained and still functional today. The principal spillway is low but is enough to divert water to the irrigation canals parallel to the river. Water flows to the canal through a cement gate controlled by valves above. We talked to the care-taker and we were told that the eroded parts upriver were just recent. He said that the river swelled last July and damaged some of the dam walls.
The Sta. Barbara Dam and Irrigation System was completed in 1921 under the American occupation to provide for the needs of the town and nearby farmlands of Sta Barbara, Leganes and Pavia. Due to the dam’s efficiency in providing irrigation, Iloilo became one of the top agricultural producers in decades following its completion. To date, the Sta. Barbara Dam and Irrigation System of Iloilo is the oldest gravity irrigation dam in the country.
Truly, our journey at Sta Barbara Dam was unforgettable and a great break from my city life filled with hustle and bustle.
Getting there: The Sta Barbara Dam is located at Bgy Tungay along the road going to New Lucena. The dam can be reached in 10-15 minutes through tricycle from Sta Barbara town proper.Tags: Metro Iloilo - Guimaras, Sta. Barbara