With the supply of clean water and proper wastewater management becoming growing concerns in many parts of the country, a series of round table discussions (RTDs) are being organized in key areas in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to consult local government unit (LGU) officials, local water district (LWD) executives, and other stakeholders to better understand and define the role of LGUs in local water resources management and development.
The series of consultations, dubbed “Local Development means Local Involvement: The Role of LGUs in Water and Wastewater Management,” kicked off on August 15 in Legazpi City and has now entered its second stage, with the second RTD held today at the Crown Regency Hotel in Mactan, Cebu.
The convenors of the project include the Philippine Water Partnership (PWP), the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), and ISTRATEHIYA.
PWP Chairperson Nathaniel Santos said that the consultations are part of efforts to better understand and define the roles of LGUs in local water resources management and development.
“The first RTD helped validate many of the concerns that had been raised by the LGU and LWD executives we had worked with in the past,” said Santos, who revealed that one of the issues cited by the participants in Bicol were the problems involved when LGU officials had to coordinate with national agencies based in Metro Manila.
“When faced with issues involving water resources management, LGU execs say they have to travel all the way to Manila to work with national agencies like the NWRB to address these problems, which can result in long timelines when it comes to water resources projects,” explained Santos.
“It appears that the local development means local involvement solution is possibly the most viable and appropriate response to the problems that come with the current centralization of water supply and wastewater management protocols,” the lawyer added.
According to Santos, “at the end of these discussions, we hope that the insights gathered from LGUs during the series of RTDs will provide national government policy makers and development planners with an understanding of the current situation at the local level, so that they can formulate appropriate measures to address identified gaps, issues, and challenges.”
PWP is a non-government organization affiliated with the Global Water Partnership, which assists the government and provides a neutral venue for discussions on integrated water resources management.
According to data from the NWRB, the total freshwater resources in the Philippines totals around 149.5 billion cubic meters per year. On the other hand, Philippine consumption, according to data from by the World Bank, is estimated at 81.6 billion cubic meters annually.
Water distribution in majority of the country is dependent on separate LWDs, each with their own respective plans, regulations, and policies. Private investors who want to partner with these LWDs have to work with LWDs and LGUs to develop water supply projects to serve local communities. The present setup requires coordination with around 30 government agencies.