There is an urgent need for Negros Occidental to come up with a provincial water security road map now, Rep. Francisco Benitez (Neg.Occ., 3rd District) said yesterday.
“The problem is serious, there are people whose water supply has been decreasing inspite of the fact that we seem to have excess water in general,” he said.
There is a need to be forward thinking, Benitez said, pointing out that under Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, development in Negros Occidental will be speeding up.
“We don’t want water to be the deciding factor to limit our development,” he said.
Benitez and Lacson yesterday convened a pre-Negros Water Summit meeting at the Negros Residences in Bacolod to determine initial priority actions to address water issues, from policy to financing.
Among the issues tackled were water demand and resource management to support economic growth, social welfare and ecological balance.
Juliana Carbon, Bacolod City Water District general manager, said Bacolod City is in need of an additional 40 to 60 million liters of water a day to meet its growing demand.
There is a need to augment the current water supply of the city considering the fast-paced development it is experiencing, she said.
Carbon said with the Megaworld development in the city alone, there will not be enough water supply.
“Balancing the water needs of Metro Bacolod and the needs of other parts of Negros Occidental is partly why we are all here, why it is a province-wide issue,” Benitez said.
Lacson said that while local governments in Negros Occidental are facing challenges for water, Bacolod City needs the most water.
The demand for water is not only in Negros but worldwide, Lacson said. “That is why it is very important to come up with a masterplan and see how we can meet the demand for water for the next generation.”
Benitez said there is a proposal in Congress to create a department of water because obviously it is a major need nationally.
Meanwhile, in the absence of that department, Negros Occidental is coming up with its own security plan now.
There is a need to come up with a plan on water usage, conservation, recycling in a resilient and sustainable manner, he said.
People need to be reminded that water is a resource that has its limits, Benitezstressed.
Lacson said initially the water summit was supposed to be for the third district of Negros Occidental only, but former Rep. Alfredo Benitez suggested that the whole province be included.*CPG
The creation of the Provincial Water Resource Management Council was among the numerous recommendations suggested during the pre- Negros Water Summit.
Expecting that the supply of ground and surface water may not be able to support the demand of a growing population and economy, the desalination of seawater for human consumption is being entertained to be soon a reality.
These were only among the issues, problems and action points raised by participants during the pre-Negros water summit
Provincial consultant on Economic Affairs Alfredo Benitez assured that the outputs of the summit will be viable and tangible, and will not just remain on paper, or video clippings.
“We will have to ensure that this will be a viable solution, and it will be felt by Negrenses,” Benitez said.
The Negros Water Summit is expected to be held next year, Benitez said, adding that he will expand it to other stakeholders.
Once they hear about this, Benitez said he expects more solutions, creative suggestions and proposals, which will redound to the benefit of all.
Among the issues on governance and enforcement raised by Dennis Parcon of the Protected Area Management Board during the pre-summit, including limited watershed protection against illegal settlers, fragmentation in water management and conflicting laws, limited support in the promotion of hydropower renewable energy and bulk water supply, and deteriorating and diminishing water quality and quantity.
Raymond Gerald Rallos of the Provincial Health Office, who discussed sewerage and sanitation issues, raised the improper handling of domestic wastes, absence of sewerage treatment, illegal desludger, polio threat and water borne-related diseases, polluted rivers, non-compliance to standard septic tanks, negative effects of open dumping sites, and incapacity of local government units to invest in sewerage treatment plants.
On water sustainability, Alex Arquio of the National Economic Development Authority, stressed the need to invest in water quantity and quality, noting that only 18 of the 32 local government units in Negros Occidental, have operational water districts.
Arquio also noted the lack of coordination between LGUs and water districts, salt water intrusion, lack of funding in rehabilitation of water districts transmission pipelines, water scarcity and declining of water quality, as well as water prioritization usage.*GPB
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