November 30, 2023

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Sec. Antonia Loyzaga is hoping the department will be able to release its integrated water resources management plan by August.

In reaction to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Loyzaga said they have already completed a consultation on the management plan and that it will be released for examination by stakeholders and concerned agencies.

Loyzaga assured the DENR will ramp up efforts to improve the country’s water supply situation and achieve water security.

This, amidst lingering shortage concerns over the El Niño climate pattern and growing population demand.

She said at the heart of the government’s water security program are equity, economic efficiency, and environmental sustainability.

To date, Loyzaga said the National Water Resources Management Office (NWRMO) has so far implemented immediate efforts while they prepare plans for long-term effects.

“The NWRMO has issued two bulletins already, one is for the government offices and the rest is for the general public to warn on the impact of El Niño. This means that conservation is at the top of our list,” she said.

Meanwhile, Loyzaga also recognizes the challenges that they are facing.

Among these, she said, is the problem of infrastructure, which includes leaks in water pipes, and the problem of supply because of decreased rainfall.

In his SONA, Pres.  Marcos said his administration will give a “special focus” on improving water security, with efforts that should be “cohesive, centralized, and systematic”.

Around P14.6 billion has been allocated in the 2023 national budget for water supply projects.

Moreover, a portion of the P276B flood control budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways will be repurposed for initiatives such as offline storage to address multiple needs for irrigation, power generation, industry, and domestic uses.

All these are on top of the creation of the NWRMO.

The NWRMO is a transitory body pending the creation of the Department of Water Resource Management which is covered by several bills pending before both houses of Congress. – PNA