THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said its water security strategy is based on building “multipurpose infrastructure” in collaboration with other government agencies.

Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said during Post-State of the Nation Address (SONA) discussions on Wednesday described the DENR collaborative approach as “convergence,” motivated in part by the need to share the funding burden.

“We would like the convergence of the different departments in this administration, led by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and NEDA (the National Economic and Development Authority), the LWUA (Local Water Utilities Administration) and MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System),” she said.

We are “looking at our budgets and our programs to see how we can design multipurpose infrastructure to actually serve the different needs of agriculture, of power, of water for domestic use of industry,” she added.

For longer-term funding, Ms. Loyzaga said that the DENR is working with the Department of Finance to explore public-private partnerships for bulk water and other projects.

She also said development partners like the World Bank could be tapped to support multipurpose infrastructure “to address especially those areas that are critically in danger because of climate change.”

Ms. Loyzaga said she hopes to release the Integrated Water Resources Management Plan in August. The Water Resource Management Office (WRMO), a newly created DENR agency, will implement the plan.

The plan will serve as the WRMO’s roadmap in roping in other government agencies to address water challenges.

“The consultations have been completed and the new plan will be released for everyone to examine,” she said.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said during his second SONA that he is pressing Congress to pass legislation that will create the Department of Water Resources Management.

“Considering its fundamental importance, water security deserves a special focus. Our efforts must not be scattershot, but rather, cohesive, centralized, and systematic,” he said.

According to the DENR, around P14.6 billion has been allocated in the 2023 national budget for water supply projects.

A portion of the P276-billion flood control budget of the DPWH could be repurposed for initiatives such as water storage to address the needs of irrigation, power generation, industry, and domestic use. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera