Stakeholders from various sectors converged here on Thursday for a two day summit to discuss the pressing issues of water security and the proposed solutions to provide potable and affordable water for the people of Negros Occidental.
The Negros Water Summit, held at the Negros Residences, is organized by the Office of 3rd District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez to tackle four key themes water supply and quality, sanitation and sewerage, sustainability, and water governance.
We must come together to find sustainable solutions. Our next generation and our current development demand it, said Benitez, who is the summit director, in his opening message.
Focusing on the challenges to water security, Benitez said the demand for such valuable resource is increasing at unprecedented levels due to population growth and development, which put water sources under threat.
The degradation of water supply, the depletion, and contamination of aquifers, the pollution of surface water sources, the denudation of forests and watersheds threaten our supply of safe drinking water, he added.
He also cited trends that disrupt access to the water cycle, pose risks to water scarcity, lead to water stress, slow down groundwater recharge, and reduced surface water flow, among others.
Negros Occidental is a witness to these trends. The province is rapidly urbanizing. In 2015, 61 percent of the 2.5 million population lived in urban areas and water infrastructure has been unable to meet the growing demand, Benitez said.
In 2018, only 37.2 percent of households in the province have Level 3 water supply. This means having an extensive distribution network of piped water connecting individual households.
All 17 operational water districts in Negros Occidental reported 26.81 percent of non revenue water (NRW) or losses from leaks or pilferage.
High NRW levels prevent water utilities from recovering their investments and generating income that should be used to improve infrastructure and expand service delivery. We do need to get our acts together to promote water efficiency and conservation, Benitez said.
Given that there is no short supply of innovative technologies to ensure a sufficient supply of safe drinking water, he said stakeholders should explore alternative water sources and harness water treatment technologies to address water scarcity and to help the cycle of water.
An integrated approach to water resource management or strong collaboration is key to rational development and the management of water, land, and related resources to maximize economic benefit and also to ensure social welfare and ecological balance for the long term, he added.
Benitez said the government authorities, private sector, and civil society must come together to institute critical reforms and investments to build adequate water infrastructure and ensure social and environmental protection for generations to come.
SOURCE: PHILIPPINES NEWS AGENCY