Newbie senators offer strategies to address water shortage
MANILA, Philippines — Neophyte senators on Tuesday offered ideas on how to address the prevailing water shortage problem the country is facing.
Senator-elect Francis Tolentino pushed for the establishment of a Department of Water, which will “synchronize” the functions of all agencies handling water supply — National Water Resources Board (NWRD), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).
“Siguro it’s about time that we have this Department of Water to synchronize all the functions of NWRB, MWSS, oversight doon sa Maynilad and Manila Water plus national integration of services and activities of LWUA,” Tolentino told reporters in an interview when asked for his suggestions on addressing the water shortage issue.
“It would also concern the sourcing, conservation, regulation, pricing, as well as the sustainability of potable drinking water,” he added.
The House of Representatives held a hearing on Tuesday on the water shortage.
During the hearing, the House committees on Metro Manila development and public works and highways adopted House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s House Bill No. 8068 proposing the creation of the Department of Water.
But this bill could no longer be passed by the present 17th Congress because it already ended its sessions.
For the moment, Senator-elect Imee Marcos advised the public to conserve water as she described the issue as already an “emergency situation.”
However, in the long run, she said the government should revisit the plans to build new sources of water such as dams.
“Balikan natin ‘yung mga plano tungkol sa iba’t ibang dam, alam naman natin yung mga dam eh kulang na kulang. Panahon pa ng tatay ko yung mga Angat na yan at ‘yung mga inaasahan para sa Metro Manila, halos hindi na nadagdagan so I think it’s time to revisit all those plans, re-engineer,” Marcos said in a separate interview.
Marcos also proposed to “look at the contracts of all water concessionaires” citing “very obvious violations.”
She said there should be sanctions for the violations.
Should the water shortage worsen, Senator-elect Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa proposed that the government should consider desalination.
But it is only to be the last option, since, he said, there are still many water resources in the country. The senator-elect said he got the idea from Israel.
“Problema nila (Israel) noon ang water, pero nagkakaroon sila ng teknolohiya wherein maco-convert ‘yung saltwater from the sea, ginawang potable water at pandilig sa mga halaman,” Dela Rosa said in a separate interview.
“Ewan ko kung gaano kamahal yung technology na yan pero baka kaya natin yan,” he added.
For the meantime, the government should strengthen its management of water resources, Dela Rosa said.
“Management lang siguro ang kulang dito para ma-manage nang husto para makarating talaga sa mga local government units ang mga tubig na yan,” the senator-elect said.
“Pero kung wala nang ibang paraan, yun, ‘yung technolohiya na yun (desalination), ‘yun pwede natin gawin,” he added.
The water level in Angat Dam, which is the primary water source of Metro Manila, continues to drop, according to the weather bureau.
Maynilad Water Services Inc. earlier said 75 percent of its concession area are now affected by rotational service interruptions as Angat Dam’s water elevation continued to dip./ac
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