THE Department of Water Resources (DWR) needs to be established to better deal with private-sector investors and to unify the management of more than 30 agencies involved in water resources, an economic planner said.

Roderick M. Planta, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) assistant secretary, said at a virtual briefing Tuesday that a DWR would be the private sector’s designated partner in developing water resources.

“The private sector’s behavior is largely dictated by how the government operates. The regulatory environment is crucial to their investments,” Mr. Planta said, adding that in aid of clear regulation, a consolidation in the water agencies will unify overall planning, programming, and policy formulation.

Representative Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda, who chairs the technical working group associated with the House bills proposing to create the DWR, said such a department will be responsible for ensuring access to clean water and sanitation services.

Mr. Salceda, said the proposed department will also encourage responsible private-sector participation and can facilitate infrastructure building within the industry by declaring projects to be of national significance.

“National interest gives these projects a special place in our legal framework,” Mr. Salceda said, referring to the facilitated permit process for projects enjoying such status.

Mr. Salceda said government investment in water will remain needed, but pursued in partnership with the private sector.

“Public investment is necessary in this sector, especially considering that 70% of water is for agriculture. Food security is a basic national interest. The absence of public investment in water may distort the pricing of some basic needs,” Mr. Salceda said.

“Water resource management cannot be disjointed. It is one resource where you are not allowed to make mistakes in one stage of management,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave