The House committees on Government Reorganization and on Public Works and Highways approved a consolidated bill creating the Department of Water Resources (DWR) that would ensure reliable, safe, quality and affordable water supply for all.
It was Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, the chairman of the technical working group (TWG) tasked to consolidate the 35 bills on the proposed creation of the DWR, who presented the substitute bill to the joint panel.
“The new Department shall be the primary national agency responsible for the comprehensive and integrated planning, policy formulation and management of water resources in the Philippines,” Salceda said.
“The DWR shall also ensure the implementation of the Philippine Clean Water Act, The Water Code and the Code on Sanitation.”
The veteran legislator said the DWR shall also ensure the effective implementation of all the provisions of Republic Act No. 9275, otherwise known as the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, Presidential Decree No. 1067 otherwise known as The Water Code of the Philippines and the water aspect of Presidential Decree No. 856, otherwise known as the Code on Sanitation of the Philippines.
Under the substitute bill, the functions of the River Basin Control Office, Manila Bay Coordinating Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Flood Management Planning and Sediment Functions of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Water Supply and Sanitation Unit of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Water Quality Management Section of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)-DENR will be transferred to the DWR.
“MWSS, LWUA, LLDA, PRRC and NIA shall be attached to the new Department.”
Meanwhile, the following agencies shall be attached to the new Department: Metro Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS); Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA); Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA); and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) as well as the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) as an infrastructure arm of the new Department.
The bill also authorizes the DWR to create subsidiaries, instrumentalities, and entities to engage in water-related programs, projects, and activities.
The seasoned lawmaker said an independent regulatory and quasi-judicial body to be known as the Water Regulatory Commission (WRC) shall also be created as an attached agency of the new department.
“Concession agreements and other contracts for water supply provision currently existing shall remain valid and in force, unless otherwise invalidated by the Commission where the public interest so dictates, after due notice and hearing for reasons provided in the concession or service agreement or contract,” he said.