WATER SECURITY. Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson (center) leads the 1st Provincial Integrated Water Security Council meeting at the Seda Capitol Central Hotel in Bacolod City on Friday (Sept. 16, 2022). The Council approved the Provincial Integrated Water Security Plan 2023-2030 to carry out more systematic and organized interventions to improve water security. (Photo courtesy of PIO Negros Occidental)

BACOLOD CITY – Negros Occidental has crafted the Provincial Integrated Water Security Plan (PIWSP) to carry out a more systematic and organized interventions to improve water security for its residents.
“We approved the Negros Occidental PIWSP 2023-2030. This was the highlight of today’s meeting,” said Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson on the sidelines of the 1st PIWS Council (PIWSC) meeting at the Seda Capitol Central Hotel here on Friday.

The province has received assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Safe Water project in formulating the PIWSP.

Lacson, who chairs the PIWSC, said that through the plan, Negros Occidental would be able to address issues on water security such as increasing investments for water, improving the capabilities of water service providers, planning for long-term source development, and protecting and conserving the watersheds.

He added that the PIWSP should also be utilized by the local government units (LGUs) in planning their water and sanitation plans, and build on integrating water resource management into various policies and programs for water service provision and the management of watersheds.

The governor also underscored the need for investments to achieve water supply and sanitation targets and the importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in increasing sources of water.

He added that cities and municipalities may also look into payment for ecosystem services for users to enhance LGU budgets for watershed management.

“Given our previous initiatives and activities, it is my earnest hope that this council and management body will be the springboard to operationalize our shared responsibility and plans,” Lacson said.

He acknowledged the commitment of USAID to their shared goal of a water-secure future and for the improved well-being of families in water-stressed communities.

Earlier, Lacson said the province aims to start the construction of at least one bulk water facility in the next three years with the assistance of the national government’s PPP Center, USAID, and a private partner.

Data showed that Negros Occidental’s groundwater availability is only at 8 percent, which indicates an urgent need to use other water sources, including surface water resources, which have 92 percent availability.

Current underground water resources will no longer hold the demand of the province by 2035, it added. (PNA)