Legarda Pushes for Water Sector Reform

August 29, 2016

In a bid to address the challenges in the water sector, Senator Loren Legarda has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to convene a technical working group to rationalize all the water agencies in the country.

Legarda said, “the continued overlapping and fragmented regulation of water supply services in the country by several government entities will hinder the enactment of a doable and long-term solution to prevent water shortage.”

A recent study by the World Resources Institute revealed that the Philippines will likely experience severe water shortage by 2040 due to the combined impact of rapid population growth and climate change. Furthermore, the Philippines ranks 57 out of 167 countries that are highly vulnerable to severe water shortage.

In this light, the Senator asked DENR, together with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), to preside over a meeting of all water agencies in the country and to discuss the proposed Water Sector Reform Act under Senate Bill No. 245 filed by Legarda.

“This measure addresses the fragmented and overlapping regulation of water supply services in the country and will improve access of the population to safe drinking water,” she explained.

The bill institutionalizes the adoption of Integrated Water Resources Management principles in the management of the country’s river basin clusters with the proposed Water and Sanitation Regulatory Authority exercising functions and powers in order to restructure and reform the water industry including its sourcing, storage, treatment, distribution, and on sewerage treatment.

It also seeks to organize the country into Provincial Water Resource Zones within which Water Service Providers will operate, integrating and synergizing the water industry to make it more efficient and cost-effective.

Moreover, the proposed measure aims to strengthen and make the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) the lead agency in water resource and industry management as well as encourage Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in water and sanitation services to help secure uninterrupted, adequate, quality and dependable water supply for everyone. An incentive scheme is provided to encourage more investors to participate in further developing the Philippines’ water industry.

“Water is a human right and the State must ensure that the water in our lakes and rivers reaches our faucets and every citizen will have access to potable water. In order to achieve this, we must reform the water industry itself,” Legarda concluded.