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Written By Rey Anthony Chiu
Philippine Information Agency

Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado sounded the call for action and called for participation in governance especially in managing and protecting Bohol water resources for the economy, the community and the needs of the environment.

Speaking at the Bohol Water Summit Monday at the MetroCenter Hotel, the governor painted a gloomy future shared by the whole world if access and water sources become compromised.

Citing the alarming state of water here, the governor as well as the summit convenors believe that the situation needs not just knee-jerk reactions but carefully planned, integrated and harmonized action, just as the Bohol Medium Term Development Plan describes the current water quality here as poor and still deteriorating.

With Bohol mostly using groundwater sources extracting at a rapid rate thereby allowing saltwater intrusion, which again hosts several concerns, a study presented by an Australian Youth Ambassador revealed.

Confronted with a picture of diminishing water resources and lengthening gap in access to uncontaminated water, the Bohol Water Summit came, organizers shared during the Summit opening.

As he optimization of the water resources use here, an inter-agency Bohol Integrated Water Resource Management Team was created with a dual aim: to strike a balance between continuing demand for available clean and safe and affordable water and the call to effectively protect and safeguard biodiversity and environmental health, according to a summit brochure.

To formally advance the cause for water protection here, an executive order establishing the muti-sectoral Bohol Integrated Water Resources Management Board was signed by stakeholders including the governor to establish, consolidate, build on and strengthen existing institutional arrangements and structures that deal with Bohol water resource management. 

The Bohol move is one innovation which comes at a time when the whole of the country is faced with the issue of water scarcity including the diminishing supply and access to potable and safe water, thereby worsening problems of contamination and posing danger to health, GTZ consultants said.

Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself has urged Filipinos today to conserve water as the possibility of a critical water shortage looms in the wake of a "dry spell" sweeping the country.

The President made the call during a press briefing by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Makati City this week.

"We need everybody to conserve water to mitigate this disturbance," President Arroyo said.

She directed the NDCC to prepare information kits and to launch an information campaign to increase awareness among the people on the need to conserve water.

The President also instructed the Department of Agriculture to plant "water-resistant" crops or plants that do not need much water to sustain growth.

This way, the President said, agricultural output would not be affected too much.

During the briefing, Science and Technology Undersecretary Graciano Yumul informed the President that the country, particularly Luzon island was experiencing an "extended" dry spell for the past two months, when the rainy season should have been around already.

He said that if no rains come by next month, the possibility of drought might be declared in the regions. (rachiu/PIA)

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