December 5, 2023

Baguio City Councilor and Philippine Councilors League (PCL) Chair Elmer Datuin was among the delegates invited to speak at the United Nations (U.N.) Water Conference last March 23. 
The U.N. Water Conference has convened local and regional chief executives and legislators around the world to discuss and advocate for the protection of water ecosystems in order to secure adequate water supply. 
In his speech, Datuin highlighted the Water Code of the City of Baguio as a significant piece of legislation that has instituted a legal framework at the local level for a holistic management of water resources and facilities in the city.
Salient provisions of the Water Code as enumerated by Datuin are: the creation of a City Water Resources Board which complements its national counterpart, the National Water Resources Board; the issuance of local water permit to regulate water extraction and to stop the indiscriminate discharge of wastewater; the establishment of monitoring mechanisms in water establishments to improve their environmental compliance; and the setting up of a trust fund based on the “polluters pay principle” to augment and replenish water development financing. 
Datuin said the Water Code is considered as a “pioneering initiative” by a local government unit in Southeast Asia. 
Datuin said a local water governance framework like that of Baguio City can set off the creation of a partnership among the LGU, private and business sectors, academe, and expert groups in the areas of research, technical assistance, access to appropriate technology, and resource mobilization.
He added two priority commitments of Baguio City that are geared towards water protection. These are establishment and management of a database for water concerns; and enhancement of activities already in place such as the inland waterway monitoring and management.
He also mentioned about Baguio City’s Blue Walk project. Activities under this project include the clean-up and restoration of the main creek and tributaries of Balili River and the conservation and rehabilitation of the Busol Watershed. 
All these projects, according to Datuin, have enabled Baguio City to pursue its goals on resiliency, safety, and sustainability. – Jordan G. Habbiling