PWRA dismayed over delay of Water Code deliberation
CEBU, Philippines — The Provincial Water Resources Authority (PWRA) in Cebu has lamented that the deliberation of the proposed “Water Code for the Province of Cebu” has been delayed and moved after elections.
PWRA executive director Engr. Edgar Sibonga told reporters on Thursday that the public sessions, which were earlier scheduled for the deliberation of the proposed measure, have been postponed.
He said the draft of the ordinance, which spells out the water code, is currently on the table of Provincial Board Member Thadeo Jovito Ouano who chairs the Committee on Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources.
He said there is a need to put on measures that would monitor closely the number of water permittees for regulation and control, and penalize violators of over extraction of water sources and illegal drilling of deep wells.
Sibonga said through an ordinance, there will be a budget that may fuel conservation and protection programs that will address water scarcity or water crisis like during droughts.
To recall, the issue on over extraction pushed advocates to lobby before the Capitol for the creation of a separate body to look into these concerns. The PWRA was created in 2006, but it was only 10 years after that the local authority was constituted.
Sibonga said the problem on sea intrusion, which is one of the negative effects of over-pumping of groundwater source, has reached the alarming phase because it has gone rampant.
“This event cannot be reversed back easily. For a contaminated groundwater (with high salinity level) be reversed back to its original state, it will take decades,” he said.
He said in 2016, when PWRA was already constituted, the members were left with the primary task of developing the Water Resources Management Plan or the Water Code, which is the strategic and comprehensive plan to guide sustainable management of the water resources in Cebu.
Architect Socorro Atega, executive director of civil society organization Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water, said the first public sessions scheduled on January 9 was cancelled and moved to February 6. However, it was also postponed.
She said they were told that the next schedule for deliberation might happen after the May 13 elections.
She said the PWRC, which she is a member of, knitted the Water Code for about two years and was just finished on November 2018.
Atega called it as an “ambitious” endeavor because this Water Code will be the first in the country adopting the global water partnership securing sustainable water for all.
The Water Code does not only provide for water sanitation but also includes watershed management; water quality management; water governance; and resilience to water-related disasters like flooding and drought.
It will also address water-related problems that bore from rapid urbanization wherein the demand continues to grow amid limited water supply. — MBG (FREEMAN)