POE: ACTIVATE TASK FORCE EL NIÑO
Sen. Grace Poe is pushing for the approval of a bill creating a single agency in charge of sustainable water management and sanitation amid threats of a prolonged dry spell in Metro Manila and the rest of the country.
During her visit to Bacolod on Tuesday, March 12, Poe said problems in the water sector could be better addressed if there is a uniformed regulatory framework.
"Dapat may iisang water regulatory board na 'di lang sa tubig kundi pati sa sewerage system kasi ngayon wala pang ganyan," said Poe in a radio interview.
Poe had filed Senate Bill 1217 or the proposed Water Regulatory Act seeking to rationalize and streamline functions of various state agencies in terms of water regulation in that the independent body is mandated to set the policy for water supply, sewerage and septage management, issue licenses, and set, review or approve rates. She filed the measure in 2016.
Current systems relating to water supply, management and regulation are fragmented, resulting in ineffective delivery of water and sanitation services, Poe said.
Poe also urged the Department of Agriculture and other government agencies to activate a Task Force El Niño that would identify communities severely impacted by droughts and water shortages.
"Dapat may task Force El Niño ang Department of Agriculture at iba't ibang departamento para makita kung saan tayo makakatulong agad... Sa task force na 'yan, ina-identify 'yung mga bibigyan ng tubig na priority," said Poe as she lamented several days of no water supply in some parts of Metro Manila.
Metro Manila and nearby provinces experienced water shortage in the past few days due to a critical level in dams while agricultural provinces recorded crop losses this early. El Niño is expected to further intensify in the hottest months of the year.
Poe further stated that communities must not only rely on dams for their water supply and proposed that local government units should have catchment areas or water cisterns to collect rainwater and help communities during summer or droughts.
"Hindi lang sa pagtatayo ng dams, dapat may water catchment facilities din. 'Di ba sa atin grabe pag umulan, ang lakas, yung tubig umaagos lang. 'Yung communities maglagay paano makolekta ang tubig. Hindi naman tayo magre-rely lang sa dam."