By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez is calling on colleagues in the 18th Congress to support the proposed creation of the Department of Water to ensure sustainable and potable water supply in the country.
He said the proposed central authority on water resource management will be tasked to ensure that various water sources, which include rainwater from local catchment or mini-dams, will be constructed.
“It is ironic that Metro Manila is submerged in flood waters even at the slightest downpour, yet households do not have a steady supply of water from their faucets,” Romualdez, one of the frontrunners in the Speakership race in the 18th Congress, said in a statement.
“The mean annual rainfall of the Philippines varies from 965 to 4,064 millimeters annually. It is time that we study the possibility of rainwater harvesting as a source of drinking water for our cities and municipalities,” he added.
The president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) and the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) agreed with Bulacan Rep. Gavini “Apol” Pancho’s proposal to construct mini-dams at the sidelines of the pre-SONA economic and infrastructure forum on Monday, July 1 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Reception Hall in Pasay City.
“I fully subscribe to the proposal of Cong. Apol. Since the creation of Department of Water is a priority of President Duterte, I will ask other leaders of Congress to include the mini-dam concept in the legislative measure,” Romualdez
Pancho said it was about time for the government to consider his proposal that would help resolve the water supply problem and the same time, the flooding problem in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
“Just this Monday, the heavy downpour submerged several areas of Bulacan and parts of Metro Manila yet water level in Angat Dam rose only by a meter. If we can collect those rainwater in small-dams, then we may have a steady supply of water even for agricultural, commercial and industrial use,” he said.
He said setting up the mini-dams would not be too costly for the government since there were already existing infrastructures.
He explained that the project would only involve walling of existing infrastructure and leveling and deepening of riverbeds.
“Hindi gaanong magastos dahil mayroon nang mga existing na infrastructure. Kailangan na lang ang walling at puwede namang gawin iyon in stages,” Pancho said.
“Ang importante, hindi masayang ang mga tubig-ulan at maipon natin sa halip na pumunta lamang sa kalye at magdulot ng baha,” he added.
Romualdez said the government should follow what Singapore did in harvesting urban stormwater in large scale for potable consumption.
He noted in the Southeast Asian country, rainwater was collected through a comprehensive network of drains, canals, and rivers and channeled to the reservoirs before it is treated to become drinking water.
“Initially, due to budget requirements, we may have to do with the construction of mini-dams or small local catchments for rainwater based on existing infrastructure in various localities,” Romualdez said.
He noted that the country’s economic managers have long been batting for the creation of the Department of Water to address the suboptimal use and poor management of the country’s water resources.
Currently, at least 32 agencies are involved in the management of the country’s water resources.