Creation of water department pushed after severe Luzon flooding

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2020 09:17 AM | Updated as of Nov 25 2020 10:58 AM

Screencap of a video with Magat Dam releasing water days after Typhoon Ulysses passed Luzon on November 13, 2020. Cagayan PIO

MANILA – A lawmaker on Wednesday pushed for the creation of a department dedicated to manage the country’s water resources following massive flooding in Luzon, which had been linked to water discharged by dams.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said there should be a primary national agency in charge of construction and expansion of dams, and would also guide operators on the release of water to prevent flooding.

“Kailangan natin ng Department of Water. Hindi puwede na isang ahensiya lang katulad ng NIA (National Irrigation Administration) na they will be responsible for the lives of millions of people. There has to be an institution of a higher level,” he told ANC’s “Matters of Fact”.

(We need a Department of Water. NIA cannot be the sole agency responsible for the lives of millions of people...)

The NIA is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) primarily responsible for irrigation development and management. In a congressional hearing on Tuesday, the agency denied that the severe floods in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela were caused by water released from Magat Dam.

Meanwhile, development of new water sources by constructing dams is under the scope of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Salceda added.

On Nov. 18, a House panel approved the funding provision of a proposed measure that sought to create the Department of Water Resources.

Under the bill, the new agency will be responsible for the building, maintaining and monitoring of water-related infrastructures. It will also manage, control and protect the country’s water resources.

The NIA, MWSS, National Water Resources Board (NWRB), Local Water Utilities Administration and other government offices that supervise inland water bodies such as the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission will be attached to the water department.

The measure, which seeks a P3-billion fund for the creation of a water department, is moving for plenary approval, Salceda said.

“Maganda ang posibilidad na maging realidad po ang Department of Water,” he said, adding the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) did not oppose the measure.

(There's a good chance the creation of a water department will be a reality)

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