Clean Water Act Signed; RP Joins the World in Marking World Water Day
Byline: PRISCILA R. ARIAS & DAVID CAGAHASTIAN
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed yesterday the Philippine Clean Water Act as the country joined the rest of the world in the universal observance of World Water Day.
The new law provides for a comprehensive water management program to protect the countrys water bodies from land-based sources of pollution such as industries, mining, agricultural operations, and community or household activities.
This developed as United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan urged all countries yesterday to address water issues confronting the world, stressing the importance of water in the quest for sustainable development.
"The Clean Water Act is a very important piece of legislation that would pursue all issues that affect the state of the countrys water quality," Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Elisea G. Gozun said.
"It also mandates the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to formulate and implement more stringent policies and strengthen partnerships with other government agencies and stakeholders to improve water quality in all parts of the country," she added.
As lead implementing agency of the new law, Gozun said one salient provision of the law is the designation of water quality management areas using appropriate physiographic units such as watersheds, river basins, or water resources regions.
This will be done in collaboration with the National Water Resources Board (NWRB). Areas will be identified according to hydrological, meteorological, or geographic conditions which affect the spread of pollution and contaminants in water bodies.
Ramon B. Alikpala, head of the NWRB, added that the Angat Dam, which supplies potable water to Metro Manila and irrigation water to Bulacan and Pampanga, has a 186.43 meter water level. A 6.06 meter water reading below the current level would greatly affect the supply of irrigation water and consequently delay the planting season. If the cropping season is delayed, the supply of basic commodities such as rice and vegetables would be affected.
As the nation observed World Water Day, a week-long series of activities has been lined up by the department which include the National Water Forum with the theme "Securing Our Future: Effectively Managing Water Now." The event was held yesterday, sponsored by the United Nations Development Program, World Bank, WSP, Australian AID, and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
The Philippine Partnership will hold its general assembly and election forum with the theme "Water and Disaster" while the Symposium on 54th World/139th Meteorological Day will be held today, March 23, organized by the Philipppine Atmospheric, Geographical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) with the theme "Weather, Climate, and Water in the Information Age. …