Istambay sa Mindanao

Personal blog of MindaNews' Walter I. Balane. Visit www.mindanews.com for more news, views and information on Mindanao.

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Location: Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines

I'm Walter Balane. I am a journalist based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines. I initiated the group called Atong Press (www.atongpress.ning.com) for press freedom and responsibility and media education in Bukidnon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

[NEWS] RP's first: Davao prepares to implement water code

(I wasn't really very happy with "the way" I worked on this article. I know I could have done better. But this news simply made me happy anyway. It gives a much needed relief to a growing problem of water in the provinces.

When I covered the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bukidnon and the city councils of Malaybalay and Valencia, I met several issues concerning the issuance of water permits by NWRB using endorsements from some local adhoc representatives. The local legislators have since complained that the set up did not work very well in the interests of the province and the communities.

I'm proud Davao is poised to implement its own water code, to localize regulation, management and protection of our water resources. Just another proof that the rest of the country have a lot of things to learn from Mindanao (of course vice versa).

The news article:

DAVAO CITY (Courtesy of MindaNews/18 July) -- This city will soon implement its
water ordinance, signed in 2005, with the submission of the proposed implementing rules and regulations (IRR) to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Councilor Pilar Braga co-chair of the joint committee that prepared the rules told reporters Tuesday.

Once implemented, Davao City will be the first in the country to
localize the National Water Code to ensure protection and management of its water resources, Braga said.

Braga said it took the city around 10 years to approve the water
ordinance because it is a controversial legislation that could affect interests of big businesses that are dependent on water like softdrink companies, bottled water firms and agricultural plantations.

She said the IRR has gone through a series of deliberations involving
peoples' organizations, non-government organizations and other stakeholders.

Braga told MindaNews it is too risky to leave to the National Water
Resources Board (NWRB) the regulation and management of local water resources. The NWRB, which is based in Metro Manila, issues the water permits nationwide.

"How could they take care of our water resources when we can't even see
their shadows here?" Braga asked.

Braga, proponent of the ordinance, submitted the IRR through City
Administrator Wendel Avisado on June 30. Braga said they expect no big hindrance to its signing.

The IRR was prepared by a joint executive-legislative committee earlier
formed by Mayor Duterte composed of city executives, legislators, and NGO representatives.

The IRR provides for the creation of the Davao City Water Resource
Management and Protection Council which will administer and implement the water code. The council, which will have an initial fund of P3 million, will be the lead agency in coordinating, implementing and monitoring the city's management, conservation, use, and development of its water resources.

The council will be composed of the city mayor as chair, the city administrator and other top city government officials and legislators representing committees on
environment and energy, the general manager of the Davao City Water District, the City Environment and Natural Resources Officer, City Health Officer, City Engineer, Chief of the Business Bureau, City Legal Officer and the executive director of the council.

The water council, according to the IRR, should prepare, develop, and
formulate a "comprehensive water resource management and development plan" to "ensure that sufficient and potable water will be available at a reasonable cost to the present and future generations of the city while furthering
the economic development of the city.”

Among the prohibited and regulated acts declared in the proposed IRR is
the drilling of a free-flowing or artesian well within identified protected water resource
areas from Calinan to Dacudao, Calinan to Malagos and Sirawan areas. A water resource area, defined by he proposed IRR, is the location of principal source aquifer or water sources containing huge volume of water.

Existing wells, with permits issued by the NWRB, will be secured,
capped and placed with a metering device to regulate water flow and water wastage.

No person will also be allowed to drill and operate a water well within
a water resource area or extract water from there without a clearance from the council. They will be required to install an approved measuring device.

The IRR also prohibits the putting up of solid waste disposal systems,
sanitary landfill or incinerator or garbage dump within the water resource areas. It also prohibits the construction of underground oil storage tanks within the water resource areas.

The water council, as provided by the IRR, has to consult and hold public hearings for any program, project, development structures, or any other massive land activities
that might affect the appropriation, use, exploitation, development, control and conservation or protection of water resources.

The IRR also prohibits or regulates the application of fertilizers and
pesticides or other chemicals within water resource areas.

Braga said they have proposed a meeting between the members of the
joint committee who drafted the IRR and the NWRB to agree on deputization of the city government to impose water tariff as provided in the ordinance and the IRR. The NWRB considers agriculture as the biggest user of water with 86 percent of the total use, followed by industrial firms with 8 percent and domestic use at only 6 percent.

A 1991 study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, showed
Davao was among nine cities in the Philippines considered as "water-critical areas" together with Manila, Cebu , Baguio, Angeles, Bacolod, Iloilo , Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

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