January 20, 2017
Legarda Pushes for Water Sector Reform to Combat Water Shortage
Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the importance of consolidating all water agencies in the country and crafting a roadmap for sustainable water use.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, made the statement as she convened with Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and Dr. Ernesto Ordoñez a meeting for the National Water Summit and drafting of a Water Sector Roadmap.
"Water is a very basic need yet we still have communities in the country that have no access to clean and potable water. The continued overlapping and fragmented regulation of water supply services in the country by several government entities is one factor that hinders the enactment of a doable and long-term solution to prevent water shortage," she explained.
Legarda said that water is a very valuable resource because while 71% of the Earth is covered by water, 97% of this is ocean water, 2.5% is frozen water and only 0.5% is suitable for human consumption.
A study by the World Resources Institute revealed that the Philippines will likely experience severe water shortage by 2040 due to the combined impact of rapid population growth and climate change. Furthermore, the Philippines ranks 57 out of 167 countries that are highly vulnerable to severe water shortage.
"Water also affects our food security as agriculture accounts for much of our water consumption, which makes it vital for us to protect our watersheds. The issue of open defecation is likewise a national sanitation and health issue, which can be addressed if all Filipinos have access to clean water," Legarda stressed.
Data from the Department of Health shows that around 8 million Filipinos still openly defecate as they have no access to sanitary facilities.
Legarda also called for the stricter implementation of the Rainwater Collection and Harvesting Act which requires the building of catchments in homes and public and private buildings, so that rainwater can later be used for cleaning, watering gardens, and other industrial purposes.
"Water is a human right and the State must ensure that the water in our lakes, rivers and other sources of freshwater reaches our faucets and is fully maximized. Every citizen must have access to potable water but this must be sustained in the long term. In order to achieve this, we must reform the water industry itself and lay down a roadmap to ensure water security for the country," Legarda concluded.
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