BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Negros Occidental officials and stakeholders yesterday pledged to act for a Water Secure Future during the 2nd Provincial Water Summit, which was hosted by the provincial government in tandem with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.
They pledged to protect, conserve and manage the use of water resources sustainably to preserve the resource for future generations, as well as to provide adequate safe water supply and sanitation services to Negrenses.
Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, who was among the signatories, lauded the provincial government led by Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson for the launching of the Provincial Integrated Water Security Plan.
Benitez stressed the importance of commitment of the provincial government to coordinate across local government unit lands, in order to properly manage water supply, access and use of water, all the way from its extraction, its replenishment in watershed areas and the ground water, all the way to the sanitation component.
He noted that access to water has been taken for granted for so long.
Soon, we might be heading toward a water stress scarcity situation because of the continuing deforestation of mountains and forest, particularly around the river tributaries, Benitez said.
Asked on the timeline of water stress in the province, Benitez said it will depend on the water extraction. He, however said consumption will increase as the population also rises, as greater and greater economic development occurs.
Gov. Lacson thanked the stakeholders for their commitment to the water summit, he stressed that a “water crisis is also a health crisis.”
Lacson reported that the availability of ground water is at eight percent.
Data presented during the water summit indicates that 3 of 10 Negrenses cannot access safe and clean drinking water.
Pollution, water-borne diseases, destruction of water sheds worsens the water situation in the province.
Deforested watershed areas were also reported in Bacolod City, Valladolid, San Enrique and Pulupandan, while the deforestation of water shed areas is also being expected in the next several years, if no action will be taken,in Escalante City, Ilog, Sagay, Cauayan, Isabela, Hinigaran, Binalbagan, Kabankalan City, Moises Padilla and Manapla.*