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/ New Water Resources Management Office created: What will it do?

New Water Resources Management Office created: What will it do?

DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

MANILA, Philippines — As the Philippines braces for the return of El Niño and the dry spells and droughts it could bring, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. signed an executive order creating an office that will ensure the availability and sustainable management of water resources in the country. 

Marcos on Thursday signed Executive Order 22 creating the Water Resources Management Office (WRMO) in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

WRMO was created to address the challenges affecting the management of water resources in the country such as the fragmented water and sanitation sector, increasing demand for water due to population and economic growth, impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of infrastructure, and inconsistent government regulations.

The office will serve as a transitory body pending the creation of the Department of Water—among the pieces of legislation that Marcos has identified as a priority.

Mandate

WRMO is mandated to ensure the immediate implementation of the Integrated Water Resources Management in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and formulate a corresponding Water Resources Master Plan, the Presidential Communications Office said in a statement. 

The office is directed to integrate into the IWMP the development plans of other agencies, including the following:

Philippine Development PlanPhilippine Water Supply and Sanitation Master PlanNational Water Resources Board Security Master Plan

WRMO is also tasked to generate and maintain credible and timely water and sanitation data to aid in evidence-based policy-making, regulations, planning, and implementation. 

It will also "shepherd and champion" the passage of the proposed Department of Water as well as a regulatory commission on water. 

WRMO will be headed by an undersecretary to be appointed by the president upon the recommendation of Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga.

Loyzaga told media in February that the yet to be named undersecretary will be "an expert [who] has a scientific background in terms of water resource management" and who understands climate change and its implications on water security.

The DENR also has an attached agency that coordinates and regulates water resource development activities of the country—the National Water Resources Board. It issues water permits for the appropriation and use of water resources, and reviews water resource development plans of other agencies.

State weather bureau PAGASA earlier said there was a good chance El Niño would develop in July to September. It may persist until 2024.


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