WATER management agencies need to be reorganized to achieve integration in water resource management, a World Bank (WB) expert said.

“Compared to other countries, we have a very, very fragmented water sector… because for us to actually do projects out there, it takes so much effort from national to local… we have become so decentralized,” World Bank Senior Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist Maria Fiorella Fabella said at a forum on Monday.

Ms. Fabella said the current state of the water agencies has led to “very fragmented mandates and policies” at agency and LGU level.

She cited many “overlaps” in regulating water service providers, with local government units (LGUs) having different delivery standards.

She said water businesses need tariffs that “accurately reflect the true costs of providing services.”

“Creditworthiness of water service providers is very much needed because no matter how much help they get from the National Government, if they are not creditworthy, they will continue to rely on government support,” Ms. Fabella said.

Citing the Philippine Water Supply Sanitation Plan from the National Economic and Development Authority, she said that there is a need to invest P107 billion annually in the water sector.

Ms. Fabella said LGUs are “the ultimate responsible people” for providing water services.

“But before the LGUs can provide these services, it would require National Government because of water resource management. Where will all this water come from?” she said.

Ms. Fabella said that the government must use the limited resources efficiently, prioritize areas, and maximize use of public funds.

Water demand in the National Capital Region of 3,700 million liters per day (MLD) in 1995 has increased to 5,000 MLD in 2020, and is projected to hit 8,400 MLD by 2045, she said.

“It is important that water resource management is aligned. Not just for water supply, but all the uses of water for irrigation, for water supply, hydropower,” she said. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera