By Zaldy De Layola
MANILA – As the weather bureau warned of a possible El Niño phenomenon in the next six months, a party-list solon pushed anew for the creation of the Department of Water Resources Management (DWRM).
In a news release on Sunday, AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee emphasized the urgent need for the passage of House Bill (HB) No. 2880, which is among the bills seeking to create the DWRM to consolidate all agencies concerning water resources.
The proposed department will be tasked to implement necessary policy and resource reforms with respect to the management of all water resources including irrigation, sewage and sanitation.
It will also monitor the evaluation of compliance with the national goals relating to water, irrigation, sewage and sanitation; formulate a national updated road map to address the water, sewage and sanitation requirements of the State; and improve water conservation and increase system efficiencies.
This measure is in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s pronouncement on his administration’s “overall plan” to improve the country’s water resources management, Lee said.
“Even without El Niño, many of our farmers already suffer from the effects of water shortage. May mga magsasaka po tayo na matagal nang nagtitiis at pinoproblema ang pagkakaroon ng maayos na irigasyon. Ngayong tag-init, marami sa mga sakahan ang natutuyot, na malaking kabawasan sa kanilang produksyon (We have farmers who have long been suffering for lack of proper irrigation. This summer, many farmlands are in drought causing a huge decline in their production),” Lee said in a statement.
Senator Grace Poe has also refiled a similar measure for the creation of the water department.
Despite the approval of the Water Management Resource Office, a transitory body under the Environment department pending the creation of the DWMR, Poe said in a previous interview that the specter of water scarcity necessitates an immediate and comprehensive government response.
Lee said by fixing water management, the government can provide better health care to the people for having access to clean, drinking water.
Once established, he said the DWRM can implement programs to prevent extensive flooding and fight severe droughts.
On March 24, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration issued an El Niño watch, a probability of 55 percent between July and September.
El Niño increases the likelihood of below-normal rainfall conditions, resulting in dry spells and droughts, while other parts of the country may experience above-normal rainfall conditions during the Southwest monsoon season (habagat). (PNA)