European chamber to Duterte admin: Appoint 'water czar'

CEBU. The European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP), a business chamber that promotes European interest in the country, is calling upon the administration of President Duterte to create a "Department of Water" and appoint a "water czar" in light of the ongoing water crisis plaguing some parts of the country. (SunStar file photo)

TO ADDRESS the current water crisis, the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP) is pushing for the appointment of a "water czar" who would oversee the distribution of available water assets in the country.

Florian Gottein, ECCP executive director, said the country needs a "Department of Water" to help address water shortages, particularly in times of drought and dry spells.

"We've been highlighting for several years that there would be a water challenge. That there will be a water shortage not only here in Cebu but also in Metro Manila and we have to address that," Gottein said.

Last March 25, Cebu Province was placed under a state of calamity following an estimated P100-million damage in agriculture, fishery and livelihood in 27 local government units because of the dry spell.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) has P59 million in its quick response funds, P25 million of which will be used as assistance for the affected local government units (LGUs).

Gottein said European companies, some in the water sector, are interested in being part of the Duterte administration's Build, Build, Build program.

He said the country should focus more on its management of water resources by taking advantage of water innovations available in Europe.

"At the moment, to some extent, we should be managing valuable resources like water. Together with the other foreign chambers, our stand is to create a Department of Water and one water czar who is really responsible in running it," he said.

Mercedes Zobel, director of ECCP, said Europe has various technological innovations in terms of helping the government in the water crisis.

"The technical innovation that's coming from Europe is there in which we're not really using here and I think we can expedite all the problems we have here if we have these technologies and partnerships," she said.

In Cebu City, 6,000 households were affected by the weak El Niño, with the Buhisan Dam drying up and unable to supply water.

The Jaclupan Diversion Weir in Talisay City is also expected to reach its critical level after it was only supplying 19,000 cubic meters of water, way below its normal production of 33,000 cubic meters per day as of March 26, the Metropolitan Cebu Water District said.


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