Press Release
April 9, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored that proposed measures in reforming the water sector will help improve water service, especially in the country's numerous water districts.

Angara noted that according to Vicente Tuddao, Executive Director of the River Basin Control Office (RBCO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), around 112 billion cubic meters--roughly 70 percent of the total water resources available to the country--is either wasted or lost each year.

"A portion of this refers to the water we lose from leaking pipes and illegal connections," said Angara, who is Chair of the Senate Sub-Committee on Water. "But a lot of this is also the rainwater that just flows back into the sea instead of being preserved for irrigation, industrial purposes, or even everyday use."

"We do lack water catchments and other appropriate infrastructure. But the core of the problem is really in how disjointed water policy in the country is," emphasized the veteran lawmaker, noting that around 16 major agencies have some hand over the country's water resources. "And this is precisely why we need to undertake reforms in how we regulate our water sector."

Angara is the main author and sponsor of the Water Sector Reform Act or WSRA (SBN 2997), which lays down a framework for the efficient and effective management of water in the country by adopting an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach.

Among other things, the bill aims to organize the country into Provincial Water Resource Zones (PWRZs), with certain portions grouped together as River Basin Clusters (RBCs).

It also seeks to rationalize how water utilities are operated, as well as how Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements in the provision of water services are granted.

Various stakeholders have raised concerns that the proposed measure poses a threat to the existence of the water districts, many of which run local water utilities.

"Actually, the success of these reforms hinges greatly on whether the current water districts are able to scale up and improve on their services," explained Angara. "In fact, under this new framework, the pie becomes bigger for the water districts. Not only is their scope widened, but technical and financial assistance are also made more available to them."

Angara added, "Some have said, '[The WSRA] is confiscatory. They're going to take over our water districts.' But in truth, this will benefit all and lift everyone's boat."

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