RECOGNIZING the role that clean drinking water plays in individual health and a country’s overall economic wealth, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the concept of the water safety plan (WSP) in the Philippines in 2006. The WSP, according to WHO, is the most effective means of maintaining a safe supply of drinking water for the citizenry. The plan analyzes the risks of contamination, from the water source to the consumer.
A key milestone of the project was the Department of Health’s (DOH) administrative order requiring all drinking-water service providers to develop and implement water safety plans, issued in 2014. This was supplemented by Administrative Order (AO) 2017-006 last April 20, which set the guidelines for the review and approval of WSP, specifically, the creation of review committees at the National, Regional, and Local levels, as well as the authorization of DOH Regional Offices and Deputized Agencies to fast track the approval of WSP at all the levels.
As one of the deputized agencies tasked to review the WSPs of the drinking water service providers in the economic zones in its jurisdiction, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) issued Memorandum Circular 2017-018 to ensure compliance of ecozone location enterprises and developers.
The circular reiterated the review process which, as prescribed by the AO, shall cover the following:
Stage 1: Submission of WSP
a. All applications for WSP Review shall be submitted to appropriate DOH authorized office or deputized agency. (Economic zone developers and enterprises will submit the WSP to Peza for assessment.)
b. There shall be a review fee per application by such amount as existing law prescribed or in accordance with their respective guidelines.
Stage 2: Screening of WSP application
a. The Secretariat shall review the contents of the submitted WSP using a DOH prescribed form.
b. Incomplete WSP shall be returned to the applicant.
c. Only complete WSP shall be forwarded to the WSP Review committee.
Stage 3: Evaluation of the Draft WSP
a. The WSP Review Committee shall conduct the review at a maximum of 30 calendar days from the day the application is filed.
b. The draft WSP shall be evaluated according to its acceptability and the overall passing rate for WSP Acceptance is 60 percent, with no individual score below 60 percent in any WSP Sections/Steps.
Stage 4: Approval of the Draft WSP
a. The head of the deputized agency shall endorse the result of the review to DOH or DOH authorized office for approval.
b. A Certificate of WSP Acceptance issued by DOH Secretary or its Authorized Representative for any approved WSP shall be valid for three years from the day of issuance.
c. The drinking-water service provider shall apply for renewal of certificate of acceptance and shall pay corresponding fees covering three years in DOH authorized offices or deputized agencies.
d. Application for renewal shall be filed three months before the expiration date.
The deadline for developing water safety plans by drinking-water service providers was extended by a year from its original cutoff of Aug. 4, 2017 in a subsequent amendment to Administrative Order 2014 -0027 dated July 26, 2017. Failure to renew a Certificate of WSP Acceptance shall be considered a violation of such rules and regulations and may be punished by imprisonment for six months or a fine not exceeding P1,000 or both depending upon discretion of the court. (P&A Grant Thornton)