The House of Representatives has given the green light to the creation of the Department of Water Resources (DWR), a key proposal highlighted by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in his recent State of the Nation Address. The approval came during the second reading of House Bill 9663, also known as the National Water Resources Act.
The bill includes the establishment of both the DWR and the Water Regulatory Commission. The DWR is set to take on a central role, overseeing the comprehensive identification, mapping, planning, policy formulation, and management of all water resources in the country, excluding fisheries or aquaculture.
Furthermore, the proposed department will collaborate with public water organizations, ensuring coordination with stakeholders for water resource development, integration, and management activities. This encompasses areas such as sanitation, flood risk, and drought risk management.
The bill also outlines the creation of the Water Regulatory Commission, an independent regulatory body with broad authority over all water service providers, whether public or private. This authority extends to those involved in water supply, sewerage, septage treatment, and disposal services, including suppliers to subdivisions.
In addition, the legislation aims to reconstitute the National Water Resources Board into the National Water Resource Allocation Board. This board will be responsible for approving the use of water resources, including the construction of dams.
To support water-related initiatives, a water trust fund is slated to be established. This fund will contribute to water development, sanitation, wastewater treatment, and management, along with sustainability programs and projects.