DENR regional offices rationalize targets for river basins

June 4, 2009 1:53 pm 

MANILA, June 4 — Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) regional offices nationwide are rationalizing their respective 2009 programs, projects and activities (PPAs) for rehabilitating and protecting river basins in the country.

"This aims to prevent duplication and overlapping of PPAs in a single area so the PhP150 million fund government budgeted for saving river basins can be maximized," River Basin Control Office (RBCO) Executive Director Dr. Vicente Tuddao Jr. said Thursday during a two-day workshop this agency spearheaded to rationalize such PPAs which will be part of the country's 2009 integrated river basin management plan.

RBCO is the agency tasked with coordinating and overseeing water-related activities nationwide.

Authorities are hiking action on saving river basins nationwide as studies show these are in different states of degradation already.

Tuddao cited water pollution, siltation and sedimentation, encroachment of easement areas along water bodies, river inundation, destruction of aquatic life, water over-extraction and proliferation of illegal structures as among reasons for the degradation.

"Other reasons are poor management and weak governance of water bodies, earthquakes and other natural causes, poor law enforcement and lack of enabling laws to protect rivers," he continued.

He said river basins must be rehabilitated since these areas provide water for domestic and non-domestic use as well as for producing hydro-power.

River basins also provide aquatic resources for economic gain, serve as drainage of excess water from surface run-off, have historic, cultural and recreational significance as well as prevent salt water intrusion into groundwater aquifers, he noted further.

"We must address pollution, restore habitats and strengthen governance there," he said.

RBCO Assistant Secretary David Suarez urged the regional offices to rationalize respective PPAs as best as possible, particularly as he noted 2009 will be a historic year for Philipine river basins.

He attributed this to amount government allocated for the 2009 fund so authorities can implement many of the projects RBCO envisioned for these areas.

Funding since RBCO's creation in 2006 wasn't as much, he noted.

"We need to put the structure in order," he reminded the workshop participants.

During the workshop, the regional offices will also identify respective PPAs for 2010.

"There won't be a cap on funding requirements for next year's PPAs although adjustments on these will be made after the our 2010 budget is set," Tuddao said.

He clarified these PPAs must address water pollution in river basins, however.

"Fragmented but similar efforts on saving a river basin will be harmonized," he also said.

According to RBCO, the Philippines has 421 principal river basins.

Eighteen of these river basins have catchment areas each covering over 1,000 square kilometers. (PNA)

LAP/CJT/mec

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