Lawmaker wants to update the Water Code of the Philippines

A lawmaker is proposing to update the more than 30 years old Water Code of the Philippines under the proposed National Water Security Act, promoting an integrated water resources management using appropriate physiographic units such as watersheds or river basins.

Rep. Angelo Palmones (Party-list, AGHAM), authored House Bill 6676, which seeks to include the supervision and regulation of sewerage systems in the proposed Act which is not covered in the existing Water Code.

Palmones said when Presidential Decree 1067 was promulgated back in 1976; it saw the awakening of environmental consciousness, although in a nascent stage.

He said since then, concern for the environment has become fully developed and policies on the environment likewise started to be enunciated promoting clean air and clean water.  The country also has a law on solid waste management.

“The laws on environment deal more on quality standards such as of water and air.  However, the Water Code deals with the management of water resources such as ownership, development, appropriations/distribution and conservation,” Palmones said.

According to Palmones, the measure corrects this situation and rationalizes economic regulation with respect to tariff, safety, reliability and quality of water supply and sewerage services to balance the interest of service providers and consumers.

Palmones said the bill mandates all local government units to include in their land use plans a water management and development plan.  It also requires water districts to submit a water resources management plan to local government units (LGUs) for consideration in the land use plan of the LGUs.

Under the measure, the extent of the rights and obligations of water users and owners including the protection and regulation of such rights is defined.

The National Water Resources Board shall govern the utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of water resources.

The bill directs the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in coordination with other concerned national and local government agencies and local government agencies to promote the best interest and the coordinated protection of flood plain lands.

It is mandated to declare flood control areas and promulgate guidelines for governing flood plain management to be included in the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plan in every river basin.

The IWRM shall be adopted as the general strategy for water resources management using appropriate physiographic units such as watershed, river basins or water resources regions.

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