Private sector urged to work with gov’t in water management

Senator Grace Poe on Friday urged the private sector to work with the government in ensuring sustainable water management and access of the people to safe drinking water and sanitation. 'Developing the water sector cannot be accomplished by the government alone. The private sector, civil society, and community-based organizations should also be involved in the delivery of water supply, sanitation, and septage services to end-users,' Poe said in a statement. "Simply put: Our tubig (water) sector is too big. So, before we all sink, we need nothing less than a Titanic reform to prevent a Titanic disaster." In the Philippines, she said, two out of every 10 families do not have access to an improved source of drinking water; two out of 10 families also do not have access to any sanitation facility; and three out of 10 Filipino families do not have access to a hand-washing facility. Based on a study by the National Economic and Development Authority, the water availability per person in the country is 1,553 m³ (cubic meters) per year. "This is worrisome because 1,553 m³/year falls below the international 'water stress' threshold of 1,700 m³/year and approaches the 'water scarcity' threshold of 1,000 m³/year," Poe said. She reiterated her call for the establishment of a Department of Water Resources, saying the country's water woes are "too big" to be met by fragmented responses. "A regulatory authority is necessary to ensure efficient allocation of this scarce resource. In addition to this important task, a regulator is also needed to determine just rates for water services," Poe said. "Water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. Let us work together to lift the floodgates of bureaucracy, attain sustainable consumption and production, and ensure that clean water flows to every household like a mighty stream." Pending at the committee level is Senate Bill 102 or the National Water Resource Management Act filed by Poe, which urges the creation of a new agency that will be the primary policy plann ing, coordinating, and implementing entity responsible for the comprehensive and integrated development and management of water resources in the Philippines. Source: Philippines News Agency