’15 million households have no access to potable water’

Published by rudy Date posted on March 21, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – More than 15 million households nationwide have no access to potable water while some 273 municipalities remain waterless, according to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

Citing reports from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), he said the number of waterless municipalities increased to 273 in 2009 from 189 in 2003.

The report also said some 15 million households still have no access to potable water, while 10 million houses lack toilets.
“The households lack access to clean water and sanitation facilities because of poverty,” Belmonte said at the National Executive-Legislative Dialogue on Water Supply and Sanitation workshop at the House of Representatives last week.

“The increase in water supply coverage through time has been largely due to private sector initiatives, which for the most part have failed to reach the poor,” he added.

He said the problem does not only affect the poor but also developed urban areas in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Central Visayas.

Belmonte noted that the 12 million residents of Metro Manila rely on the Angat Dam for 97 percent of their water supply.
Last year, experts estimated that Metro Manila experiences a shortage of 500 milliliters of water everyday and that is expected to increase to 2,000 milliliters by 2015.

To address the problem, Belmonte said the House will include in its priority bills a proposed measure creating the Water Regulatory Commission to manage the country’s water resources and find ways to address the insufficiency in the supply of clean water.

The country has no centralized and independent water regulator. The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is the developer and regulator as provided for in its contract with its two concessionaires, the Manila Water Co. and the Maynilad Water Services.

Belmonte said the current regulatory set up involves some 30 government agencies. Belmonte said that though exclusive, this arrangement cannot be sustained because the MWSS serves 10 percent of the country’s water requirement.

“This fragmented regulatory structure discourages investment in the sector,” Belmonte said.

“By creating a Water Regulatory Commission, we intend to accelerate the improvement and efficiency of level II water supply systems and sanitation services in the country and encourage private sector participation in the development of water supply and septage management,” he added. –Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star)

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