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Incentives eyed for water-saving gov’t agencies

THE Water Resources Management Office (WRMO) said it is looking to offer incentives for government agencies that achieve significant water savings in the face of the active El Niño.

In a virtual briefing on Tuesday, Environment Undersecretary Carlos Primo C. David said the WRMO prefers incentives to penalties for non-compliant agencies.

“In my experience… we do not respond very well to penalties. In fact, it is better to offer incentives,” Mr. David said.

While not discussing the full details of the incentives, he said: “for every peso that you are able to save on your water bill, you should be able to make a partial recovery.”

He added that he is seeking clearance from the Department of Budget and Management to offer such a mechanism in the name of water conservation.

“Baka pwedeng magamit nila ’yan for some other use (Maybe they can use the savings for some other purpose),” he said.

The WRMO, an arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently issued two bulletins outlining its water saving recommendations for government agencies, as well as for barangays and residents.

Water levels at Angat Dam, the main water source for Metro Manila, have fallen below the dam’s minimum operating level of 180 meters with the onset of El Niño.

As of Tuesday morning, the dam’s water level was 178.80 meters, against 179.23 meters a day earlier.

Maynilad Water Services, Inc. said on Monday that more than half a million of its customers will experience daily water interruptions starting on Wednesday. The interruptions will continue until further notice.

Mr. David said some government agencies are reporting water bills of between P10 million and P17 million per month, with many offices using leaky pipes and water fixtures.

In addition, he added, the use of only one water meter by multiple offices makes it difficult to isolate which agency’s practices are most wasteful.

“These are government compounds which include 20, 30 buildings inside,” all of which use a single meter, he said.

Some barangay halls with low staffing levels have water bills that exceed P100,000, he added.

The WRMO will work with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System to track the water bills of all government offices, with non-compliant offices to be issued notices of excessive water use.

A saving of P8 million per agency is equivalent to water supply for about 17,000 households, Mr. David said. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

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