Country Water Actions

Country water actions are stories that showcase water reforms undertaken by individuals, communities, organizations, and governments in Asia-Pacific countries and elsewhere.

Philippines: Sustainable Water Integrated Management and Governance for Baguio City
February 2006

Baguio City in Northern Luzon, located 1500 meters above sea level, is home to 250,000 people. Tourists by the thousands drive to this mountain resort every year, adding to the city’s problem of short freshwater supply. SWIM IN A MOUNTAIN CITY To solve the water shortage in Baguio City, a Sustainable Water Integrated Management and Governance program (SWIM) was launched in 2004 for the conservation of freshwater supply. Initiated by a non-profit organization called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and supported by the Asian Development Bank, the program aimed to strengthen the city government’s mechanisms for coordinating and managing water resources and other water operations in the city promoting integrated water resource management to different water-related sectors “SWIM is a radical local water governance reform,” notes ICLEI executive director Pamela Gallares Oppus. The vital component of this reform is the “shift from sectoral to integrated water governance.” It transforms the individual efforts of the sectors into collective actions; and the results of the program can be a good basis for policy reforms. One achievement of the program was the drafting of the “State of Baguio City Water 2004” report. The product of a series of dialogues with over 900 stakeholders, including representatives from the city government, national government agencies, local water business players, people’s organizations and the general public, the report served as the basis for creating the city’s water vision, a local water code, a medium-term water development and investment plan, and a local governance mechanism. BAGUIO CITY BEFORE SWIM Before the SWIM program’s launch, Baguio City suffered from perennially inadequate water supply, despite the city being a water cradle with reliable water wells. This shortage in freshwater supply is caused by Increasing water consumption because of the city’s population growth and tourism, poor infrastructure, weak regulatory systems, and depletion of forest cover Dilapidated pipelines resulting to water loss estimated at 35 percent

Emergence of privately-owned water pumping stations where water extraction is not regulated and monitored Impacts of climate change on freshwater supply in the city “Baguio City residents have been coping with water shortage, especially during the summer,” the report noted. Population and water consumption grow at a fast rate, and the city’s urbanization is causing pressure on the city’s remaining watersheds. As if the problem of inadequate water supply is not enough, residents also have to contend with the threat of poor water quality. Baguio City was once a mining town when the country was a colony of the United States, and traces of toxic minerals could potentially have infiltrated the water streams. The city’s water treatment facility, built through a grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and managed by the city government, suffers from financial instability to efficiently maintain the operations. LOCAL GOVERNMENT UPHOLDS SWIM Baguio City Mayor Braulio Yaranon signed Executive Order No.04, Series of 2005 adopting the implementation framework for SWIM. The order Empowers heads of offices to propose water reforms for the improvement of water services and protection of water resources within the city Strengthens coordination with national agencies – notably the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – to ensure national-local synergy in enforcing water legislations Reinforces the role of the Local Finance Committee in setting up cost-recovery schemes as a prerequisite for the city council’s approval of any loan guarantees, loan applications, or grants that the city intends to avail to finance its water infrastructure

The city council complements the executive actions for water governance reforms by drafting a local water code. The "Water Code of the City of Baguio" proposed the creation of a City Water Resources Board to act as a local special body to complement the capacity of the NWRB in attending to local water concerns issuance of a Local Water Permit to curb the proliferation of extractors and abate indiscriminate wastewater dischargers submission of Environmental Monitoring Report to address the weakness in monitoring and evaluation of water establishments establishment of a Local Water Environmental Trust Fund to lock in eco-corporate responsibility over the use and pollution of water resources TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE WATER FINANCING A Sustainable Water Financing strategy was also integrated in the water governance program. The strategy entails incorporating costrecovery and “user’s pay principle” in the design and implementation of water programs and projects, especially for capital-intensive ones. An important finding based on surveys is that users are willing to pay for steady supply of safe water in the city. This willingness is a good sign towards self-reliance. The city government can recoup their investments and ensure sustainability of water infrastructure projects. To track achievement rates and program performance, an environment management system, called “Water EcoBudget,” will also be introduced. In the next two to three years, the Baguio city will start accounting for its water through this system, which will be an enabling tool for water sourcing, resource accounting, and for sustaining the initiatives to improve water governance. With SWIM, the residents of Baguio City can expect a sustainable and more efficient supply of freshwater in the years to come. With SWIM’s success in Baguio City, more local governments will have the opportunity to undertake SWIM.

RELATED LINKS Pilot and Demonstration Activity: Sustainable Water Integrated Management and Governance for Baguio City

__________________________________ This story was based on the article “Towards a Sustainable Water Program” b y Ferdinand C. Melaya which appeared in the 23 February 2006 issue of the newspaper Malaya.

*This article was first published online at ADB's Water for All website in February 2006: The Country Water Action series was developed to showcase reforms and good practices in the water sector undertaken by ADB’s member countries. It offers a mix of experience and insights from projects funded by ADB and those undertaken directly by civil society, local governments, the private sector, media, and the academe. The Country Water Actions are regularly featured in ADB’s Water for All News, which covers water sector developments in the Asia and Pacific region.

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