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Israel, Dutch expertise tapped for water resource department

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The government is seeking the expertise of Israeli and Dutch officials in managing the country’s water, as the Marcos administration plans to establish a Department of Water Resources that will modernize and regulate the resource.

Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the ways and means committee of the House of Representatives, said he is in contact with Israeli Ambassador Ilan Fluss and the Netherlands embassy in line with a proposed bill regarding the matter.

“These two countries are the best partners to learn from. One had too little water and is now an agriculture giant in the Middle East,” the Albay congressman said, referring to Israel, in the hope of replicating the country’s best water practices.

“The other is in an existential battle against too much water, and is now the world’s most important source of water management technology. They handled the extremes. So, they would have the best insights into both a lack of water and an excess of it,” Salceda said.

He said Fluss had in fact expressed his “enthusiasm for your interest in Israel’s technology and innovation” in the water sector. The ambassador then urged Salceda to undertake for a “collaboration” and even invited him “to a study tour in Israel on the matter.”

Salceda heads the technical working group crafting the House’s bill creating a Department of Water Resources.

“I also hope to invite technical experts, encourage the hiring of their experts so we can do knowledge transfer and bundle our partnership into some big multi-year package with our multilateral partners,” he said.

Salceda, who assigned the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office to gather the executive agencies and come up with an administration version of the SONA (State of the Nation) priority, vowed that the House will study water regulation through the Christmas break.

He hopes that the executive and the House “can come up with a new, coherent and complete vision for the water sector.”

“Generally, we want to mimic the way the energy sector’s aspects are regulated. A NEA (National Electrification Administration) equivalent for missionary water access. A TransCo (National Transmission Corp.) for water transmission. A Napocor (National Power Corp.) for water generation. And an ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) to regulate water tariffs.”

Salceda wants to ensure “that when you want to build a dam, you know where to go. When you want to build a water or sewerage pipeline, you know where to go. Unlike now, when regulation is extremely disjointed.”

The whole point, according to him, “is you want an apex body that gathers the water regulatory agencies as one family that talks to each other.”

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