Legarda Renews Call for Improved Water Governance

November 4, 2011

Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call for improved water governance in the country.

Noting that President Benigno Aquino III has already asked the Inter-Agency Committee on the Water Sector to create a master plan on effective water management, Legarda said that the Inter-Agency Committee must harmonize water priorities-water supply, irrigation, power generation-with measures to avert flooding especially amid extreme weather events and particularly in areas with dams.

“Excess water has already been released from the reservoir of Magat Dam and this may continue as dam operators try to prevent the water from reaching critical level. Reportedly, residents were given notice before this was done, but aside from issuing advance warnings to residents when releasing water from dams, another concern is how to make good use of the released water,” the Senator pointed out.

“Communities require adequate supply of water for daily needs and irrigation, yet we are wasting rainwater, we release excess water from dams that sometimes even cause deaths and destruction as what happened recently in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac. The master plan of the Inter-Agency Committee on the Water Sector must include ways on maximizing the use of rainwater and avert massive flooding and other water-related disasters,” she added.

Legarda said that another priority concern is the access to safe drinking water, noting that 16 million Filipinos still do not have access to potable water based on the Millennium Development Goals Report 2010.

Furthermore, water pollution and the degradation of rivers, tributaries and other bodies of water must be addressed.

“Water stress, amplified by climate change, will create a growing security challenge. The changing climate will adversely affect the country’s watersheds and the population of around 24 million, the forests and their biodiversity, also affecting 1.5 million of agricultural lands dependent on these areas for irrigation water. Thus, adaptation in the water sector must be pursued, developed and prioritized,” Legarda stressed.

“We need concrete actions to solve the water problems in the country. Among the strategies we must pursue are: comprehensive watershed management, enhancement of irrigation efficiency, introduction of low water use crops and efficient farming practices, recycling of water and improvement of monitoring and forecasting systems for floods and droughts. We are blessed with abundant water-from numerous bodies of water to more than enough rains; but without effective water governance, we could end up with less clean and safe water to use and more floodwaters to devastate our communities,” Legarda concluded.