1st Ilocos Norte Water Summit offers solution to looming H20 crisis

Billed to push for a long-term water management plan in the province, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN), together with Ilocos Norte Water District (INWD) and provincial office of Millennium Development Goals (MDG), has successfully conducted on November 27, 2014 the first Provincial Water Summit held at Laoag City Auditorium.

“Water has become a primary challenge of the present days. The province continued to have a great range of farm lands despite the issue on soil erosion but the crying need seems to be (the demand) for water which is a finite resource that we take for granted,” Governor Imee R. Marcos said as she delivered her message during the summit.

A total of 350 participants, comprised of policy makers, farmers, students, members of the academe and private/public organizations, representing the different municipalities of the province attended the summit.

Other VIPs present at the summit include Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in the Philippines, and Manager Florentino David, Operations Department, National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

“This water summit in Ilocos Norte is indeed an important and timely occasion as we face the challenges of climate change,” said David.

The summit speakers constantly emphasized participatory nature, encouraging different stakeholders to identify their problems relating to water management in their municipalities, produce recommendations and come up with a workable action plan that could act as the basis for the provincial government to come up with a long-term water management plan.

“This is the first time we meet about water. And it is evident that almost all water zones in the province bear the same problems on watershed and solid waste management, widespread practice of kaingin (slash-and-burn farming) and deflating water dams and irrigation equipment,” noted Governor Imee.

The summit also featured several presentations on watershed development and management, rainwater harvesting, alternate wet and dry method (AWD), potable water and solid waste management.

“To mitigate the looming water crisis, what we need to do is to produce more rice by using less water thus the need to use the AWD method. This method reduces the use of water by as much as 15-35%,” Engr. Noel D. Ganotisi, senior science research specialist of Philippine Rice Research Institute – Batac, pointed out during his discussion on Alternate Wet and Dry method (AWD).

Solid waste management has also been highlighted during the summit as it should become a priority concern of Local Government Units (LGU) and it must be addressed now appropriately and efficiently since we are all contributors of solid wastes.

Meanwhile, Zanjeras from San Nicolas, Piddig and Lataag, Laoag City received special awards during the summit for observing the AWD method and efficient use of water.

It may be recalled that Governor Imee R. Marcos had challenged the province’s leaders during her State of the Province Address (SOPA) last August 2014 the pressing need to come up with better water management system.
“It is envisioned as over one third of the population will be living in Metro Ilocos by 2020, an unparalleled demand for water will dry up ground and surface sources, putting pressure on meagre catchment areas such as INWD’s Sitio Dilomot in Sapat, Pasuquin,” she said.

To provide potable water in 2020, the development of “3 provincial faucets” in upland Pasuquin and Vintar and a heavy forestation around Paoay Lake is eyed to be integrated in the provincial water management plan.

“I hope that after the conduct of this summit, we will finally have a better water management system in the province because as a farmer, I can now see the negative effects of climate change in our farming activities,” remarked Rogelio Ceredon, award-winning farmer from Dingras, Ilocos Norte.

Gary James Gumarit, a student of Mariano Marcos State University – College of Teacher Education, expressed hopes that our province will have a better water management system in the future. “Being an officer of Youth for Environment in School Organization (YES-O) at school, a club that is geared towards protection of the environment, I am happy that we are having steps dedicated towards the protection and management of our water resource.”

The Sirib Youth Office (SYO) also prepared a set of competition for students, namely debate, jingle and doodle competitions to integrate the important role of the youth in the conservation and protection of water resources.

Eighteen schools in the province participated in the doodle competition while four teams from Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) – Laboratory High School Laoag and Batac, Solsona National High School and Batac National High School competed in the debate tournament. Debaters from MMSU – Batac won the competition.

Champion in the doodle making contest was Kyla Lizette G. Ildefonso of Boyboy Elementary School, Piddig while a group of students from San Nicolas National High School bagged the best jingle award. –(J Michael Mugas, PGIN-CMO)