Angara calls for monitoring of the nation’s water footprint to avert worsening water crisis
By Jason de Asis

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, November 27, 2010-Senator Edgardo J. Angara, chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) calls for a careful monitoring of the nation’s water footprint in order to avert a worsening water crisis.

Angara said that the country’s water footprint is advantageous to policymakers and water-related institutions, adding that the statistics enable them to decide what strategies to employ to achieve the highest possible productivity with the lowest possible costs and it gives a more concrete basis as to what projects to pursue than merely looking at how much water is available for usage.

“Everybody used water through direct consumption or in producing and consuming other goods wherein the total volume of utilized freshwater is called a water footprint, much like a carbon footprint is used to measure the units of carbon pollution generated by an individual or institution,” the Senator said.

Angara convened local and foreign water experts in finding solutions to the troubles in water supply and demand management, alternative sources of water, financing and Public-Private Partnerships, flood control and other water-related issues.

Angara said that it is important to understand the Philippine water footprint that links the amount of usable water to human consumption, adding that it displays the discrepancies between water availability and usage.

The government finds out that the water footprint is useful to indicate the amount of available water and how water is used that’s why the administrations are able to evaluate what modes of production to maintain and what to eliminate.

The national water footprint can guide legislators in what policies in agriculture, industry, and trade to implement, in short, “the government has a mandated influence on what social units can and cannot do and it starts with policies,” Angara said.

A recent study by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which projected only 1,907 cubic meters of fresh water available per Filipino annually and ranks the Philippines as the second lowest among countries with fresh water availability in the region, adding that a study conducted by UNESCO-IHE (Institute for Water Education), the national water footprint is composed of internal and external factors.

Internal water footprint indicates the water volume produced and consumed by residents within a domestic area, while external water footprint indicates the water volume consumed by residents through consumption of imported goods and services.

There are several issues regarding water that which the government has continually failed to recognize and to address. The Philippines ranks 84 out of 177 countries according to the Human Development Report and one of the main reasons is the poor distribution of water and sanitation in the country.

There is a need to develop water related infrastructure in the region by putting up $20 million and this will be through the Asian Development Bank which will invest in a private equity fund to address the needs of the people for potable water and provide decent sanitation to almost 1.8 billion people. The new water infrastructure is seen to meet the global demand which is expected to double every 20 years.

Proposed amendments to existing laws are being proposed by the COMSTE and University of the Philippines - Institute of Community Education (UP-ICE) to strengthen strategies for water development. (Jason de Asis)