DENR names 6 more water quality management areas

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has named six more important water bodies across the country as water quality management areas (WQMAs) to better protect them from pollution.

In separate administrative orders signed by outgoing Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, the DENR designated as WQMAs the Naguilan River System in La Union; Cañas-Maalimango Rivers in Cavite; Ayala River in Zamboanga City; Taoloan River Basin in Misamis Oriental; Talomo River in Davao City and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.

This brings to 31 the total number of WQMAs nationwide, 25 of them were designated under the Aquino administration.

“This is part of our effort to keep the country’s waterways clean and ensure the sustainable water supply for Filipinos,” Paje said.

The environment chief said the designations would help determine what control measures to institute to effectively achieve water quality objectives and improvements in those areas.

WQMAs require serious protection and management action by the local government and its stakeholders.

All six newly designated WQMAs have a combined area of 221,376 hectares of inland water systems, including land portions surrounding the water bodies.

Four of these water bodies are critical to aquifers and irrigation. These are the Naguilan River System, Talomo River, Ayala River and Lake Sebu.

Meanwhile, the designation of Cañas-Maalimango Rivers as WQMA strengthens government compliance with the Supreme Court mandamus on the cleanup of Manila Bay because the two rivers serve as major transport route of pollutants from establishments within the Cavite area.

The Tagoloan River Basin, on the other hand, serves as a repository of all water that stream through from the watershed areas of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental provinces.

Under Republic Act No. 9275 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 2004, the DENR, in coordination with the National Water Resources Board, to designate certain areas as WQMAs using appropriate physiographic units such as watershed, river basins, or water resources regions to effectively enforce its provisions and improve the water quality of water bodies.

The law seeks to provide a decentralized management system for water quality protection and improvement of river systems.

A total of 25 WQMAs have been designated by the DENR since President Benigno Aquino III came into power in 2010, as against the five WQMAs declared under the previous administration.

The Clean Water Act tasks the DENR to create a governing board for each WQMA, which is chaired by a regional director of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). Its members include the mayor and governor of the concerned local government unit and representatives of relevant national government agencies, duly registered non-government organizations, and business and water utility sectors.

The governing board serves as a planning, monitoring and coordinating body. It also reviews the WQMA action plan prepared by the EMB.

The DENR and the stakeholders address the water quality problems, sources of pollution, and the beneficial use of the receiving water body. They also determine what control measures to institute to effectively achieve water quality objectives or improvements. ### 

DENR to the public: Bike, hike and plant a tree for Mother Nature

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) invites all Filipinos who have a passion for riding bicycles and taking care of the environment from all sectors to join the “Bike. Hike. Plant. Celebrating 153 years of Philippine Forestry Service” on June 25, 2016. Registration is still on-going.

The event is being spearheaded by the Forest Management Bureau (FMB), a staff bureau under the DENR, as part of its sesquicentennial anniversary celebration.

“The forestry service in the country has come of age as foresters are now regarded as significant players in nation-building as evidenced by the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 10690, otherwise known as the Forestry Profession Act of 2015,” DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said.

Looking back, Paje said that while the forestry sector had contributed immensely in the economic growth of the country, such gains had its consequences resulting in the degradation of upland areas which, in turn, impoverished the people in the countryside due to low productivity.

But interest in forestry has come to fore once again in the light of climate change.

“The restoration of forests remains one of most viable mitigation measures against the impacts of climate change. It is for this reason that President Aquino expanded the implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP) up to 2028 to continue with the reforestation of the remaining denuded and degrade areas of the country,” Paje stressed.

NGP is the massive reforestation program of the Aquino administration. Started in 2011, it sought to plant 1.5 million hectares by end of 2016.

According to Paje, protecting the environment is as essential as taking care of one’s health, so the volunteers will be able to maximize their participation in the activity.

The goals of the event include widening the network of forestry champions and including the bikers and hikers in rehabilitating and protecting the Philippine forests through the promotion of responsible tourism and proactive forestation.

“By planting trees through these activities, we will be able to achieve a carbon-free Philippines gradually,” Paje points out.

The Philippines made a commitment during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France last year to reduce the carbon emissions by up to 70% through the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs.

“As a highly vulnerable country, the Philippines has committed early to contributing its fair share to the global action,” Paje said.

Planting trees is one of the methods used for carbon mitigation. Accordingly, the carbon sequestration capacity of a tree is generally much faster on its early age, one reason why tree planting is highly encouraged.

Expected participants include 100 volunteer riders from 50 corporate, government, media, and private bike organizations. There will also be an additional 50 volunteer hikers from various agencies who will receive the seedlings and plant these on the site. Some 400 cyclists will also join the volunteer riders to show their support for the delegation.

Route starts from the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau parking lot in Quezon City up to the Mt. Sainai, Pintong Bocaue in San Mateo, Rizal, which is a part of the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape. Assembly time and distribution of planting kits and seedlings will be at 4:00 AM.

The kits that will be given to the participants will be placed in drawstring bags made from nylon silverback fabric. The bag has two pockets which can hold the two seedlings. These two seedlings will be carried by each of the volunteer cyclist up to the planting site.

“We hope that through this biking, hiking and tree planting event, the volunteer cyclists, while sustaining the pink of their health, will be able to entice people from other sectors to meet our carbon emission goals and finally achieve our collective goal for the environment,” Paje said. ### 


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