A SOLON on Monday prodded government policy makers and regulators to come up with a framework that will assist and incentivize water districts and other small distribution system operators to consolidate.
Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda, House ways and means panel chair, said the Department of Interior and Local Government and the administration’s economic managers should make the consolidation guidelines to promote shared water resource management.
“This year, we are providing LGUs (local government units) and local water districts (LWDs) some P18 billion in new water systems from the 2023 General Appropriations Act. They can be better managed if they share resources — from pipelines to reservoirs,” he said in a statement.
The Albay representative said that this would maximize the government’s investments in water resources.
LWDs are government-owned corporations while some local governments run water distribution systems, usually on a smaller scale in remote areas.
Mr. Salceda also called on the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) to “be more aggressive in exercising its power to monitor local water districts for performance and to consolidate them for public welfare,” especially with the anticipated water supply crisis due to El Niño.
“Their mandates are far-reaching and include monitoring for performance and to effect system integration, joint investment and operations district annexation and deannexation whenever economically warranted, as the law says,” he said.
He added that the LWUA could use its “financing powers” to incentivize consolidation through “favorable financing terms and performance reviews.”
There are some 300 water districts that are non-operational or barely used, according to Mr. Salceda. “You could combine those water districts into clusters to make infrastructure investments more efficient,” he said.
“Water, whether we like it or not, is not a localized issue. To manage water resources well, you need more scale, more coordination, more long-term planning, and more resource-sharing.” — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz