Press Release
November 26, 2010


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called for careful monitoring of the nation's water footprint in order to avert a worsening water crisis.

"A nation's water footprint is helpful to policymakers and water-related institutions. The statistics enable them to decide what strategies to employ to achieve the highest possible productivity with the lowest possible costs. It gives a more concrete basis as to what projects to pursue than merely looking at how much water is available for usage," said Angara.

All sectors, either public or private, use water through direct consumption or in producing and consuming other goods. The total volume of utilized freshwater is called a water footprint, much like a carbon footprint is used to measure the units of carbon pollution generated by an individual or institution.

Angara, chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) recently convened local and foreign water experts to seek solutions to problems in water supply and demand management, alternative sources of water, financing and Public-Private Partnerships, flood control and other water-related issues.

Angara said that understanding the nations water footprint is important because it links the amount of usable water to human consumption. It displays the discrepancies between water availability and usage. Governments find water footprints useful because they do not only indicate the amount of available water but also at how water is used. Hence, governments are able to evaluate what modes of production to maintain and what to eliminate.

"We should concern ourselves with our national water footprint because it can guide our legislature as to what policies in agriculture, industry, and trade to implement. The government in short has a mandated influence on what social units can and cannot do and it starts with policies," emphasized Angara.

Angara noted a recent study by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which projected only 1,907 cubic meters of fresh water available per Filipino annually. This ranks the Philippines as the second lowest among countries with fresh water availability in the region.

According to a study conducted by UNESCO-IHE (Institute for Water Education), the national water footprint is composed of two kinds of footprints: internal and external. A nation's internal water footprint indicates the water volume produced and consumed by residents within a domestic area. A nation's external water footprint indicates the water volume consumed by residents via consumption of imported goods and services.

"There are too many issues concerning water that we have continually failed to recognize and address. The UN has identified the Philippines as ranking 84th out of 177 countries in the Human Development Report, and one of the main reasons for this is the poor distribution of water and sanitation in the country," said Angara.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently announced that it will put in $20 million for an investment in a private equity fund focused on supporting the development of water-related infrastructure in the region, noting that about half a billion people still lack access to potable water and 1.8 billion are without access to decent sanitation. In a statement, the ADB also stated that global demand for water expected to double every 20 years, so there is a critical need for new infrastructure.

COMSTE and University of the Philippines - Institute of Community Education (UP-ICE) are currently working together to draft proposed amendments to existing laws or push for new bills that can incorporate better strategies for water management.

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