Poe says search for new water sources must continue
MANILA, Philippines — To ensure a steady supply of water, Senator Grace Poe on Thursday urged for the continued search and development of new water sources as she underscored the need for the creation of a single water agency.
“While we work towards the creation of a water agency, we look forward to these projects to meet immediate needs,” Poe said in a statement.
The projects Poe was referring to were the proposals for interim water sources earlier mentioned by officials of water concessionaires in a hearing conducted by the Senate public services committee.
“Water is a vital gift of nature, but the most misused and ignored. We should act quickly to make productive use of the water assets that we have,” Poe, chair of the public services committee, went on.
Some of the proposals, which were either pending approval or have already been approved, include the expansion of the Cardona water treatment plant, daily extraction of around 40 million liters of water from the Marikina River using a new technology, and digging of deep wells, Poe noted.
One of the projects that has been approved by state regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Systems (MWSS) is the building of a new facility in the east bay of Laguna Lake, she added.
Poe had asked the MWSS to submit to the committee a comprehensive list of proposals for new water sources or expansion of existing ones and their status.
The senator also mentioned that one of the measures that could address the complex problems facing the country on water supply, sanitation and resources development would be the creation of a single agency that will have a mandate and accountability over all water concerns.
There are dozens of agencies involved in water with overlapping mandates, but without single accountability, Poe said.
She also pointed out that the country is faced with a web of issues involving water management, such as allegedly disadvantageous contracts with the concessionaires, rights over water resources, failure to tap water sources, among others.
“No single agency is accountable for all the water concerns we are experiencing,” Poe stressed.
“The last thing we want is for agencies and private entities to be pointing fingers as to who is at fault. We need to act fast to address the situation because demand is increasing and we are not producing enough quality water for the Filipinos,” she added.
There are several pending bills proposing a water body, including one filed by Poe, which seeks to establish an independent central water agency.
According to Poe, there are over 30 government agencies tasked to manage and oversee various aspects of the country’s water resources.
There are also 574 water districts; 1,500 local government water utilities that also regulate water service provision in their areas; 500 rural water supply associations; 200 cooperatives, and 900 assorted private firms, Poe said.
“This fragmentation has had significant implications in the effective and adequate delivery of water and sanitation services,” she said.
Edited by JPV
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