NWRB Celebrates World Water Day

NWRB Celebrates World Water Day with the Conduct of a National Dialogue on the Revision of the Water Code

March 19, 2015

Seeking to strengthen the resource regulation and promote more efficient use of the country’s water resources, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) is pursuing the review and revision of Presidential Decree No. 1067, otherwise known as the Water Code of the Philippines.

The Water Code institutes the laws governing the ownership, appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of water resources. These water resources refer to waters under the ground, above the ground, in the atmosphere and of the sea within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines.
According to NWRB, after more than three decades of adoption and implementation of the law, there is a need to amend the Code to be responsive to the changing needs of the country and its environment. The availability of water has deteriorated over the years which resulted to increasing conflicts and competition over its use. Rapid urbanization, over exploitation of forest resources and inappropriate land use has also disrupted the hydrological condition of watersheds. Currently, there are climate variability issues such as long droughts and flooding that aggravated these water challenges and need to be addressed.
 “The revised water code will take into consideration climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and management, environmental safeguards, community development, development of science and technology, with the component funds and institutional framework to operationalize it,” said NWRB Executive Director Sevillo David Jr.
Since its promulgation, several new laws have been enacted (e.g. Local  Government Code, Clean Water Act, Climate Change Act, etc.) that have conflicting provisions with the Water Code. Several new agencies/institutions have also been created that have overlapping functions with NWRB.
Moreover, the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 Medium-Term Update which translates into specific goals, objectives, strategies, programs and projects all the things that the country wants to accomplish in the medium term, also constitutes the revision of the Water Code.
The initial attempt to amend the Water Code was in 2008 when the NWRB, with support from Department of Science and Technology - National Academy of Science and Technology (DOST-NAST) through UNESCO funding, convened a multi-sectoral Technical Working Group (TWG) for the review and recommendation of amendments.
Currently, NWRB, in partnership with the Philippine Water Partnership (PWP) and USAID through the Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project, will engage in a series of public and multi-stakeholder consultations with government agencies, private sector, non-government organizations, and academic institutions to look at the existing implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Code, propose amendments, and come up with a Draft Revised Water Code. To operationalize this, NWRB is hosting a “Roundtable Discussion on the Amendment of the Water Code of the Philippines” today in Quezon City. The activity is also being held to commemorate World Water Day 2015 in the Philippines.
The national dialogue will discuss the proposed amendments to the Water Code and discuss the next steps for the revision. In the proposed revised code, promotion of science and technology with appropriate  funding,  will enable NWRB to facilitate the assessment  of  granted water permits to determine if a cap should be established on the duration and volume of water extracted, in light of climate change impacts that may affect the country.
According to Dir. David, “the revised code must institute a criteria that will allow the NWRB to declare a water crisis when there are aggravating conditions caused by climate change impacts.”
Proposed amendments to the new code include incorporating Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) to ensure that management of water resources is exercised without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems. Another proposed amendment is to institute the provision of development incentives and benefits to communities where water sources are extracted for commercial use.