THE GOVERNMENT has earmarked P14.6 billion for 1,374 water supply projects this year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) told a Senate panel on Monday.
DENR Undersecretary Carlos Primo C. David told the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals joint with several other committees that the projects are lodged under the budgets of the Public Works and Highways and the Interior and Local Government departments.
These will be implemented with the assistance of the newly formed Water Resources Management Office (WRMO).
“This year marks the year where the largest funding for water supply happened,” Mr. David said.
“Most of the projects would be on the provision of water through deep wells using solar power pumps and the supply would be for anywhere from 1,000 people to 5,000 [in the] barangay level,” he said.
He added that the WRMO — which is under the DENR and consolidates all government agencies with water-related functions — is also tasked to handle short-term concerns on the country’s ongoing water crisis.
“The water crisis is already happening and therefore some of the solutions need to happen… this year,” he said. “The priority efforts of the WRMO would be to resolve some of the internal issues between government agencies.”
In February, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. approved the creation of the WRMO that will serve as a “transitory body” to the proposed Water Resources Department.
Several bills on the creation of a department focusing on are pending at Congress’ committee levels.
Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda called on the Monetary Board to include water districts and local government unit (LGU)-led water works providers as qualified borrowers under Republic Act (RA) No. 11901 or the Agri-Agra Law.
The current law requires banks to extend 25% of their total loanable funds to agriculture, agrarian, fisheries and rural development sectors.
“Local water districts and LGU-run waterworks are crucial to rural development. Running water is crucial for agriculture and fisheries,” Mr. Salceda said in a statement.
“This amendment and relevant clarification will help expand private sector financing towards water and sanitation access in rural communities and in improving the resiliency of the country’s water infrastructure,” he said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz