In a bid to ensure better management of the country’s rivers and minimize the risks brought by extreme weather events, Senator Loren Legarda has proposed the institutionalization of the Integrated River System Management Approach.
Legarda explained that despite the collaborative efforts exerted by various agencies of government on water management, the risks of flashfloods and other water-related disasters continue to threaten communities as witnessed during the onslaught of Tropical Storm Sendong in Northern Mindanao and some parts of Visayas.
“Climate change has already aggravated the hazards that we have been experiencing, further worsened by the absence of an institutional framework addressing issues on water resource development which leads to a fragmented and oftentimes conflicted approach in water management,” she stressed.
“We must adopt and institutionalize the Integrated River System Management Approach as a systematic framework in addressing river water management and development,” she added.
Legarda’s proposal is contained in Senate Bill 3105, which also aims to classify river basins in terms of importance to land conservation and the national economy and create a National River Council, which will be tasked to provide strategic proposals on resource management of the country’s rivers.
The Senator explained that a National River Plan will also be developed. This plan, which shall be reviewed every five years and updated if necessary, will provide river administrators strategies for effective river and river water management based on changing needs and priorities of the country.
“In 2007, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) declared that of the 421 principal river basins, 50 are already considered ‘biologically dead’ due to pressures caused by urbanization, industrialization and poor sewerage, sanitation facilities, heavy siltation of rivers and other waterways, among others. This is an ongoing crisis since surface water is one of the country’s three main water sources,” she pointed out.
“Through the Integrated River System Management Approach, we hope to prevent the risks and maximize the benefits from our rivers as we establish a comprehensive river administration system for flood control, water use and environmental conservation,” Legarda concluded.***