By Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz
Three more river systems in Metro Manila and Southern Luzon have been placed under the stringent policies of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for protection from degradation and pollution.
Under three separate administrative orders signed by DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, the Malabon-Tullahan-Tinajeros and the Las Piñas-Parañaque river systems in Metro Manila and the Iyam-Dumacaa river system in Southern Luzon have been designated as water quality management areas (WQMAs), bringing to 37 the total number of WQMAs nationwide.
The administrative orders aim to protect and improve the water quality of the three river systems, which are important sources of livelihood among local residents, pursuant to Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.
“Their designation as WQMAs will ensure clean water in these rivers for present and future generations. Water is vital for irrigation, livelihood and water supply,” Cimatu said.
So far, there are now 19 WQMAs in Luzon, eight in Visayas and 10 in Mindanao.
According to Cimatu, designating WQMAs will enable concerned officials both in the national and local levels to take focused interventions on specific water quality issues relevant to a particular locality.
“The WQMA is a significant tool in enforcing the Clean Water Act. It aims for the improvement of water quality to meet the guidelines under which they have been classified or to improve their classification so that it meets its potential use,” Cimatu said.
Under RA 9275, DENR, in coordination with the National Water Resources Board, is mandated to designate certain areas as WQMAs using appropriate physiographic units such as watershed, river basins, or water resources regions to effectively enforce its provisions and improve the water quality of water bodies.
The law seeks to provide a decentralized management system for water quality protection and improvement of rivers.