Press Releases

House joint panels approve Water Resources Department bill; Salceda says law will also help address flooding

August 30th, 2023

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district), principal author and technical working group chair for the National Water Act, said that the creation of the Department of Water Resources will help address urban flooding issues, by providing a framework for stormwater and drainage services. The National Water Act, which creates the DWR and the Water Regulatory Commission, was approved by the Committees on Public Works and Government Reorganization today.

“The National Water Act will fulfill the mandate of Executive Order No. 22, which creates the Water Resource Management Office to shepherd the eventual creation of the Department of Water Resources,” Salceda said.

“This is also in line with President Marcos’s mention of the Department of Water Resource Management as an urgent presidential priority in the State of the Nation Address.”

Salceda explained that the bill “unifies policy-making, planning, and management for water and septage under a single department called DWR. The DWR Secretary is given functions of presidential adviser on all water-related issues.”

“The measure also unifies regulatory, rate-setting, and licensing functions under the Water Regulatory Commission, a quasi-judicial body similar to the ERC; It also fills in policy gaps including water regulation in provincial areas.”

The measure also creates the National Water Resource Allocation Board, “basically the approval body for using water resources, including dam construction – chaired by the DWR secretary, with a technical committee for smaller decisions, and a secretariat called the Resource Allocation Office attached to the DWR, for day-to-day functions.”

Salceda also said that the measure creates a framework for stormwater management, the first in the country.

“There is no existing regulatory framework for stormwater and drainage management by the private sector in our laws. The Clean Water Act (RA 9275) merely mentions storm water in the context of sewage treatment standards.”

“Nothing in our laws gives us a regulatory framework for stormwater management. This will change that,” Salceda said.

Salceda also says that the bill prioritizes surface water development, “which will reduce groundwater use. That is what’s causing flooding in areas like Bulacan, which is sinking by 1.5 to 2.4 inches annually.”

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