DENR undersecretary with expertise in water management likely to lead WRMO

AN undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with expertise and competence in water resource management will lead the soon-to-be-created Water Resource Management Office (WRMO), Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said.

Asked by reporters during the DENR’s Multi-Stakeholders’ Dialogue-Mindanao Leg in Cagayan de Oro City on Thursday, Loyzaga said there is no need and there will be no new positions or new undersecretary to be appointed to handle the WRO.

“The executive order is being finalized. There will be no new undersecretary. The mandate will fall under the mandate of one of the undersecretaries. We are very much aware of the streamlining that is to happen. Rest assured that the one who will be assigned knows what he is doing or she is doing. So that person should be an expert and have a scientific background on water resource management and know climate change,” Loyzaga explained.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has approved a proposal seeking to establish a new office under the DENR to ensure a sufficient water supply for the country.

The Philippines has numerous water bodies that overlap functions and mandates.

An attached agency of the DENR, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) is one of the many water bodies that regulate water resources.

Also under the DENR are the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the River Basin Control Office  and Manila Bay Coordinating Office.

The DENR also has an oversight function over Marine Protected Areas and terrestrial or inland Protected Areas that wholly or partly covers watersheds, vast lakes and rivers, as well groundwater.

On the other hand, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), as well as the National Irrigation Authority (NIA).

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) also regulate water distribution and approve applications for groundwater extraction.

The Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) is another water regulatory body that regulates water distribution run and managed by local governments and local water utilities or providers.

Marcos vowed to strengthen the mandate of the WRMO to bring together the various water bodies with mandates over water to follow the overall plan, also stressing the importance of a roadmap for all water management agencies.

The various water bodies or agencies, including the new WRMO has to be cohesive in the sense that the recommendation of the management office must be followed, the President said.

Marcos also said that the WRMO’s first action should be to reduce the country’s reliance on groundwater and deep wells as well as manage surfaced water supply.

The WRMO will be for the meantime under the DENR and will be a transitory body pending the creation of a Water Resources Department, one of the priority measures of the Marcos administration.


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