For former congressman Jeci Lapus, the water system in the Philippines is fragmented. Like an orchestra, he said there should be a conductor to ensure that everybody is in sync to produce impeccable harmony.
For Lapus, there should be one governing body to address all water-related issues.
Currently, there are several water agencies in the country such as the National Irrigation Authority for irrigation; Laguna Lake Development Authority for preservation and management of Laguna de Bay; Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System for water privatization in Metro Manila; and the Local Water Utilities Administration for managing water management outside Metro Manila.
Amid the Duterte administration’s “Build Build Build” program, LWUA Acting Administrator Lapus pushed for the creation of a water department that will regulate water districts in providing faster, simpler and more efficient delivery services of safe drinking water to Filipinos nationwide.
“First and foremost is how do we sustain safe water for us? Wherever we go, water is an essential need… There’s no point in Build Build Build if you’re dead; so we have to sustain life first,” Lapus said in an interview with the Manila Standard.
Under this plan, one department will be able to control and manage water, irrigation, sewerage, and sanitation -- compared to the present situation where there are various agencies managing water-related matters.
The proposal for a unified water department is currently being discussed at the legislative department. Lapus said that similar to the Department of Transportation and Department of Energy, a water department is being eyed by some lawmakers with the support of LWUA itself.
He also emphasized that the private sector can help in improving the country’s utility services for they have the capital and resources to undertake big projects which the government cannot provide as of the present.
Aside from funds, the private sector also has the manpower to oversee whether utility services are being run at optimal levels.
This will make it easier to reach out to millions of households all over the country that still receive unstable water connections since they would be dealing only with one agency.
“Water is very essential in our life,” said Lapus. “It is the most crucial as man can live without electricity or communication lines, but cannot survive for more than 3 days without drinking water.”
The agency’s main objective is to provide safe drinking water to all Filipinos. As of the moment, LWUA has over 520 water districts in the country, catering up to 21% of the Filipino population.
LWUA is continuously undertaking projects to provide safer water to Filipinos in the countryside to ensure sound utility service for the people. Their projects include water quality improvement, water supply development and expansion, and watershed management.
Despite LWUA’s efforts to ensure that most Filipinos have access to safe drinking water, Lapus admitted that LWUA alone cannot sustain sound utility service for the people.
Lapus believes that the creation of the water department will be the solution to make various water agencies to “act as one,” in order to provide Filipinos a better service.
On the other hand, he also guaranteed that his agency is constantly in touch with other neighboring countries in pooling knowledge, technology, and resources to improve utility services in the Philippines.
Established back in 1973, LWUA is a government-owned and controlled corporation with a specialized lending function mandated by law to promote and oversee the development of water supply systems in provincial cities and municipalities outside Metro Manila.
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