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Creation of authority for water resources management pushed in Senate

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A bill establishing the Water Resources and Management Authority is being pushed in the Senate after the recent allegedly “man-made” flooding disasters hit several areas in Luzon.

Senator Imee Marcos has filed Senate Bill 1940 which seeks to establish the Water Resources Management Authority as the sole government unit in charge of managing, integrating, and unifying policies pertaining the use, distribution, and management of water resources in the country.

In explaining the bill, Marcos said that the Executive Order that former President Fidel Ramos issued in 1996 to encourage private sector’s participation in the operation and facilities of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has caused complications and confusion.

“As a result, the institutional arrangements in the Philippines’ water sector have become exceedingly complicated, with overlapping functions of over 30 national government offices, local water boards and privatized water utility operators,” she said.

For Marcos, the MWSS should have been the main government authority in the management of water resources in the country.

“The recent spate of “man-made” flooding disasters has made the consolidation of these entities into a single coherent and comprehensive Water Resources and Management Authority urgent and critical,” she said.

Under the bill, the proposed agency will be the primary agency responsible for the comprehensive and integrated water resources development and management of the Philippines.

This will exercise authority over water supply, sanitation, irrigation, hydropower, flood control, storm water, and urban drainage.

The said agency will also be in charge of the policy-making and planning activities, resource regulation, administration and management, and coordination among water resources development activities in the country.

It will be headed by an administrator who shall have extensive knowledge on public administration and has 10 years minimum experience in the administration of water, sanitation, irrigation, flood control and drainage programs 6 preferably in a public agency.

There will also be five offices in the proposed agency: finance, administrative, planning and engineering, regulatory and financial assistance services, and operations offices.

Water Resources Regional Offices will be likewise established under the proposed measure.

To establish the proposed agency, the government needs to provide P2 billion for its operations and creation. Thereafter, its funding will be sourced from the national budget.

This proposed agency will be subrogated to all the rights and assume all the obligations of DPWH, National Irrigation Administration (NIA), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), River Basin Control Office, Manila Bay Coordinating Office, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Laguna Lake Development Authority, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, the Water Resources Regional Offices, and all other offices whose powers are transferred by the proposed law.

The bill is currently pending at the committee level.

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