Duterte admin mulls over creation of Department of Water
Aileen Cerrudo • April 2, 2019 • 1081
The Duterte Administration is studying the creation of the Department of Water to mitigate the severe effects of El Niño and water shortage.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet members discussed the possibility of forming a Department of Water during the 36th Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Monday night (April 1).
“A roadmap was presented, which included immediate, medium and long-term interventions, such as making an intensive campaign for the conservation of water and energy,” Panelo said.
Also discussed during the meeting, according to Panelo, is the formation of the Department of Disaster Resilience, dredging of waterways, replacing tunnels and aqueducts, installing water tank systems in all Department of Health hospitals and providing funding for the establishment of water treatment plants.
He said this will synchronize the actions of all government agencies and prevent the water interruption from happening again.—Aileen Cerrudo with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers on Tuesday pushed anew for the creation of a department that will solely address the country’s water woes amid a supply crisis being experienced in Metro Manila and nearby towns.
During an oversight hearing in the House of Representatives, several lawmakers raised their concerns over the persistent water troubles, which began in March this year and continued through the peak of the dry season.
Solons believe it is high time for the country to have a Department of Water to correctly manage its abundant supply of fresh water and resolve the water crisis.
“Importante talaga na magkaroon tayo ng isang sistema ng pamamalakad ng tubig dito… Ito ay long overdue na na kailangan ng Pilipinas dahil nakikita natin ang mismanagement ng tubig,” said Bulacan Representative Jonathan Sy-Alvarado.
He cited the amount of water being released from dams when rains brought by a tropical cyclone fill up dams to spilling level when it could have been stored in a different reservoir, which may be accessed by water concessionaires during the dry season.
The conduct of the hearing comes amid rapidly declining water level in Angat dam that left the metropolis parched despite the onset of the rainy season.
Attending the inquiry were representatives from concessionaires, Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc., Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
During the hearing, the LWUA also suggested asking for the help of local water districts in distributing supply to areas affected by the water shortage.
“We can ask them (water districts) to help share their water resources although the problem maybe is how to transport the water,” said Jeci Lapus, LWUA acting administrator.
Concessionaires, Manila Water and Maynilad, both agreed with Lapus’ proposal.
“We support the plan to give us more water,” said Ferdinand de la Cruz, president of Manila Water.
“Sa Maynilad po we also welcome the offer of administrator Jeci Lapus,” said Ramoncito Fernandez, who heads Maynilad.
The water level at Angat Dam has continued to dip, hitting 158.77 meters as of 6 a.m. Tuesday (June 25).
The dropping water elevation at Angat Dam has prompted water concessionaires to implement rotational service interruptions.
Aside from the creation of the Department of Water, suggestions on storing rainwater and recycling of wastewater used in water-intensive facilities were also discussed during the House inquiry.
Malacañang, for its part, said it is open to any proposal seeking to address the country’s water troubles.
“Pinag-aaralan lahat ng pwedeng gawin to solve water problem,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters at a Palace press briefing.
Meanwhile, the Makabayan bloc reiterated its earlier demand to hold the water concessionaires accountable for the water shortage being felt in Metro Manila.
It also renewed its call for the government to take over these water utilities to ensure water security, transparency, and accountability. (with details from Grace Casin)
MANILA, Philippines – A labor group on Saturday (June 22) called on the national government to intervene in the worsening water supply issues in Metro Manila due to the rapidly dropping water level at Angat Dam.
The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) suggested for the government to limit the usage of water-intensive facilities, such as swimming pools and other businesses until the water at Angat dam stabilizes.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) on Saturday reported that Angat Dam’s water level dropped to 159.78 meters.
“Because water is a basic requirement for the 13 million Metro Manila residents, it must be given priority over the profit margin of businesses,” the group said in a statement.
“To address the intermittent water supply required to households of Metro Manila, government must intercede to limit the water usage of water-intensive facilities and businesses such as golf courses, swimming pools and water fountains,” it added.
The group estimated there are about 15 golf courses in areas covered by both water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water, including publicly-owned Veterans and Camp Aguinaldo golf courses in Quezon City and the Army and Navy golf clubs in Fort Bonifacio.
There are also over 10,000 swimming pools all over the metropolis, including water parks, swimming resorts, club houses, indoor pools of condominiums and private pools in posh subdivisions.
“Why should the people stand in line for water rations on a daily basis when the elite consume so much water for their luxuries? Why are the poor again the first to sacrifice during a water crisis when they did not benefit when both Maynilad and Manila Water were brimming with profit,” said BMP leader Leody De Guzman in a statement.
The BMP also called for the suspension of building permits for new businesses which require huge amounts of water until Angat dam water level stabilizes.
The group also called on the government, particularly the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to study the deployment of more radical contingency measures to address the worsening water supply in Metro Manila as its public appeal for water conservation is not enough.
The BMP is also pushing for the reversal of the policy of water privatization that resulted into the concession of the operations of the Metropolitan Wateworks and Sewerage Systems (MWSS).
The group claims the privatization of Metro Manila’s water supply did not improve services and sustain the needs of Metro Manila residents.
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