A committee at the House of Representatives has assembled a technical working group (TWG) to study the creation of a new executive department that will address the country’s problems on water and sewerage.
Rep. Estrellita Suansing of Nueva Ecija, chairperson of the House Committee on Ecology, said the TWG will consolidate House Bill (HB) 2457, which seeks the creation of a Department of Water, Sewage and Sanitation and HB 4995, which seeks the institution of a Department of Water Resources and Services.
HB 2457 was authored by Rep. Arthur Yap of Bohol while HB 4995 was authored by Suansing.
If passed, the National Water Resources Board, Local Water Utilities Administration, National Irrigation Administration, Laguna Lake Development Authority and the Pasig River Rehabilitation will all be put under the Department of Water Resources and Services.
“The water shortage is further aggravated by the fragmented and overlapping functions of water agencies in the country,” Suansing said in a statement.
On the other hand, Yap said the department that he is proposing will be tasked to develop and implement a comprehensive water, sewage and sanitation program for the country.
“With the increase in population coupled with worsening pollution of water, lack of infrastructure and facilities result in allocation issues and conflicting rights over limited water supply,” Yap said.
Suansing said her committee’s decision to create the TWG was rooted on “the lack of a holistic program for water resources management creates a perennial problem that seriously affects the lives of Filipinos in terms of health, sanitation, food security and livelihood.”
The lawmaker cited the 2015 statement of the World Resources Institute that raised the alarm over the country’s vulnerability to severe water shortages in the coming years following rapid population growth and the effects of climate change.