Poe reiterates call for single agency to handle water concerns

Says gov’t should continue searching for, developing water sources

(Eagle News)–Senator Grace Poe has reiterated what she said was the need for the creation of a single agency that will address all the country’s water concerns, and called on government to continue to look for other sources of water.

Poe reiterated the call amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to take over water services, following the Department of Justice’s discovery of allegedly onerous provisions in the government concession contracts with Manila Water and Maynilad.

The water concessionaires have expressed willingness to negotiate the provisions, but the Palace said President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to accept or refuse the offer.

According to Poe, at present, there are over 30 government agencies tasked to manage and oversee various aspects of the country’s water resources.

In addition, there are 574 water districts, 1,500 local government water utilities, which also regulate water service provision in their areas, 500 rural water supply associations, 200 cooperatives, and 900 assorted private firms, she said.

“This fragmentation has had significant implications in the effective and adequate delivery of water and sanitation services,” she explained.

According to Poe, it the search and development of new water sources should also continue to ensure steady supply.

She said  several proposals for interim water sources were either waiting for approval or have been given the go-signal.

Some of these, she said, are the expansion of the Cardona water treatment plant, extraction from the Marikina River of around 40 million liters per day using a new technology, and digging deep wells.

She said state regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Systems (MWSS) has also approved the building of a new facility in the east bay of Laguna Lake.

“While we work towards the creation of a water agency, we look forward to these projects to meet immediate needs,” Poe said.

“Water is a vital gift of nature, but the most misused and ignored. We should act quickly to make productive use of the water assets that we have,” she added.