Country water actions are stories that showcase water reforms undertaken by individuals,communities, organizations, and governments in Asia-Pacific countries and elsewhere.
Country Water ActionsPhilippines: Addressing Freshwater Conflicts: The LLDA Experience in Lagunade Bay
With over 10 million people living and working in itswatershed, Laguna de Bay in the Philippines is a hotbed forconflicts on water allocation and use. Through participationand innovation, the Laguna Lake Development Authority hasso far managed to address these conflicts. But will theirstrategies continue to work against the increasingly complexdemands on the lake's resources?
A RESOURCE IN DEMAND
With over 10 million people living and working in its lakewatershed, Laguna de Bay is the setting for many a conflicton water allocation and use.Laguna de Bay is one of the most important naturalresource bases of the Philippines; the largest inland body of water in the country. Together with its 380,000-hectarewatershed, it is the focal point of national developmentefforts in agriculture, fishery, water supply, energy, andregional development. This is primarily due to its strategiclocation, economic and environmental significance, and vastdevelopment potentials arising from its multiple uses.The lake itself supports a host of beneficial uses. Thousandsof fishermen and their families depend on it for livelihood,and a thriving fishpen industry in the lake contributesapproximately 80,000 metric tons of fish annually to thefish supply of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. The waterresources of the lake, as well as the rivers that drain into it,are used for irrigation, power generation, industrial cooling,recreation, domestic water supply, and a navigational laneto a thriving water transport industry that serves thelakeshore communities. Laguna de Bay is currently thefocus of technical studies as a raw water source to supplythe drinking water of Metro Manila and residents of adjoining provinces in the immediate future.Over the recent decades, uncontrolled population growth,deforestation, land conversion, intense fisheries, rapid andindustrialization and urbanization have produced massivechanges in the Laguna de Bay and its watershed. Theresulting problems relate to solid waste management,sanitation and public health, congestion of shoreland areas,rapid siltation and sedimentation, unmitigated input of domestic, agricultural and industrial wastes, flood problemsand lose of biodiversity, all contributing to decline in waterquality.
TOO MANY USERS, TOO CONFLICTING ISSUES
The 10 million Filipinos who live and work in the lakewatershed are the main users of its invaluable resources.They include the residents of the watershed communities,the farmers and fishermen thriving on the lake waterresources and shoreland, and businesses and industries. Inaddition to these users, the following groups of stakeholdersalso have a keen interest on the lake: regulators; policymakers and planners; developers (land and water); researchand development institutions; and local government units.Aside from uses that serve common good purposes, e.g.,irrigation, drinking water, fisheries, recreation andnavigation, the lake in recent decades has also served amost controversial purpose
as a receptacle of waste.Examples of the many uses for the lake, and the conflictsthat arise, include the following:Fishpen owners have existing conflicts with smallfishermen, as well as other users. From 38 hectares in1970s, fishpens grew to more than 30,000 hectaresin 1983, seriously reducing the areas for open fishingand impeding navigation.With the approval by the National EconomicDevelopment Authority of the 400 MLD Water SupplyProject of the MWSS, the lake's potential as a keysource of drinking water will not be far. The use of thelake as a source of drinking water supply willchallenge all other uses of the lake.Soil erosion and sedimentation in the lake isexacerbated by quarry operations around the lakeand in its watershed, potentially contributing to thelake's pollution. The authorities for permitting,clearance, and enforcement among the institutionsinvolved-- Department of Environment and NaturalResources (DENR), local government units, LagunaLake Development Authority
have yet to bestreamlined.Informal settlers now make up a large portion of thepopulation in the region. They typically cluster in theflood and pollution-prone locations, particularly theshoreland areas and river banks. The solid waste theygenerate is carried by the rivers to the lake.Efforts to protect the lake as primarily a protectedarea have given way in favor of the unavoidabledemand for water and fish. However, a small-scaletourism industry still manages to survive in spite of the lake traffic. Tourists visit historical sites and takeboat rides to remote eco-tourism pockets whereswimming is considered safe.