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Salceda sees House OK of Dep’t of Water by January

/ 05:44 PM October 07, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives aims to pass the bill creating the Department of Water Resources Management (DWRM) by January, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said Monday.

Salceda, who led the technical working group (TWG) that would finalize the still unnumbered substitute bill, said the chamber hopes to tackle it before the plenary by November when Congress returns from a month-long break. The bill was among President Rodrigo Duterte’s priority measures.

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READ: Duterte asks Congress: We need to pass bill for department of water

Among the changes that the TWG agreed upon was the adoption of principles that “all water source belongs to the State and must be used for the people” and that “water is a basic human right,” according to Salceda.

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The lawmaker also said DWRM would prioritize the provision of water lines in geographically-isolated and conflict-affected areas, and the establishment of water treatment plants, especially that currently only 24 percent of domestic wastewater are being treated by concessionaires Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.

Salceda also quelled fears that the new department would just worsen the bureaucracy since DWRM would integrate and coordinate the planning and regulation of water resources.

Under the proposed law, the Department would be “responsible for the comprehensive and integrated planning, policy formulation and management of the ownership, appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of water resources in the Philippines to ensure the optimal use thereof for domestic and municipal water supply, sanitation, irrigation, hydropower, industry, navigation, flood management, recreation and fisheries/aquaculture.”

Aside from creating DWRM, the bill dubbed as the National Water Act of 2019 also seeks to create the Water Regulatory Commission (WRC) that would be under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The overall authority and powers of the Commission will cover and apply to all service providers, whether private or public, providing or intending to provide water supply, sewerage; and/or septage treatment and disposal services for domestic/residential, industrial or commercial use.

Salceda said they would urge the Commission to provide free water for the poor since the “collection cost is just as much as the revenues [from] the lifeline rates.”

Some P2 billion and P300 million fundings are provided for the initial operations of the DWRM and the WRC, respectively. /kga

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TAGS: DENR, Department of Water Resources, environment, Joey Salceda, Local news, Nation, national news, National Water Act of 2019, news, Philippine news updates, water, water crisis, Water Resources Commission, water supply
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