Press Releases

Salceda on water crisis: Time to consolidate water districts, LGU-run waterworks, calls on LWUA to use its regulatory powers more aggressively

April 26th, 2023

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) called on the Local Water Utilities Administration to “be more aggressive in exercising its power to monitor local water districts for performance and to consolidate them for public welfare” amid an ongoing water crisis exacerbated by the El Nino phenomenon.

“An effective LWUA is critical to dealing with the water crisis, because they supervise the hundreds of water districts that provide for urban and suburban populations outside Mega Manila.”

“Their mandates are far-reaching, and include monitoring for performance and ‘to effect system integration, joint investment and operations district annexation and deannexation whenever economically warranted,’ as the law says.”

“They also have financing powers – so they can incentivize consolidation through favorable financing terms and performance reviews.”

“The new LWUA administrator, Vince Revil, means well. I support his efforts to conduct a national water inventory, and the P20 billion the Patubig sa Buong Bayan at Mamamayan project. But to ensure that operations and management of new water systems are efficient, we really need to consolidate water districts that are inefficient or non-operational.”

“I call on the administrator to exercise that agency’s mandate to hold water districts to account more.”

Salceda estimates that some 300 water districts are currently non-operational or barely operational, meaning that the areas they serve do not have functioning central water systems.

“You could combine those water districts into clusters to make infrastructure investments more efficient.”

“The thing with water is that it is infrastructure-intensive, it requires a lot of fixed costs, and it is only viable with enough revenue-paying users. So, if a water district is too small, or has too little demand, it’s doomed to fail – or will never mature to provide sanitation services, which are also expensive.”

DILG, econ managers should consolidate LGU-run water service providers

Salceda also called on the Department of Interior and Local Government and the economic managers to come up with guidelines and incentives for local-government “water alliances” to multiple LGUs to share water management.

“Apart from LWDs, LGUs also provide water to rural communities. And this year, we are providing LGUs and LWDs some P18 billion in new water systems from the 2023 General Appropriations Act. They can be better managed if they share resources – from pipelines to reservoirs. That’s the best way to make use of the PBBM administration’s historic investments in water resources.”

Salceda adds that the House is considering language in the National Water Act — which would create a Department of Water Resources – to compel water districts and LGU-run water service providers to consolidate into more efficient and economically-sensible entities.

“Water, whether we like it or not, is not a localized issue. To manage water resources well, you need more scale, more coordination, more long-term planning, and more resource-sharing. Otherwise, you will have some places that have abundant water, and many more places that have completely zero access to quality running water.”

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