The proposal seeking the creation of the Department of Water Resources (DWR), which is a priority bill cited by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in his second State of the Nation Address, hurdled second reading approval at the House of Representatives.
The chamber approved via voice vote House Bill 9663 or National Water Resources Act, which would create the DWR and the Water Regulatory Commission.
The DWR shall be the primary agency responsible for the comprehensive and integrated identification and mapping of all water resources, planning, policy formulation, and management of the ownership, appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, sustainability and protection of water resources in the country, except fisheries or aquaculture.
The proposed department shall also develop institutional arrangements with public water organizations and ensure coordination with all stakeholders for all water resource development, integration and management activities, including sanitation, flood risk, and drought risk managements.
The bill also proposes the creation of the Water Regulatory Commission as an independent, quasi-judicial regulatory body with overall authority and powers that shall cover and apply to all service providers, whether private or public, providing or intending to provide water supply, including suppliers to subdivision or other service providers, sewerage, or septage treatment and disposal services.
The measure seeks to reconstitute the National Water Resources Board as the National Water Resource Allocation Board, which would serve as the approval body for using water resources, including dam construction.
A water trust fund shall be established for water development, water sanitation, and wastewater treatment and management, as well as water sustainability programs and projects. (PNA)