Cimatu targets to classify 183 more water bodies in 5 years

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is looking forward to classifying more water bodies in the country based on their best beneficial usage in order to improve their water quality and protect them against pollution.

Cimatu said the classification of the country's water resources is the primary mandate of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) under Republic Act No. 9275, otherwise known as the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

"Clean water is a significant, and often undervalued, resource. It is important for many reasons, including human health, food security, healthy wildlife and habitats, fishing, bathing and other recreational activities," Cimatu pointed out.

"It is therefore necessary that we protect and improve the quality of our water resources," he added.

The environment chief said he has been assured by the DENR's Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) that the classification of an additional 183 water bodies will be finished by 2022.

So far, the DENR has already classified a total of 761 water bodies -- lakes, rivers, streams and marine waters -- since the country's clean water law was enacted.

The purpose of water classification is to set goals for water quality and promote management of water bodies, especially those identified as possible drinking water sources.

"These water resources need to be protected and managed with care in order for them to supply us with abundant clean water for the foreseeable future," Cimatu explained.

As a requirement in RA 9275, the DENR has instituted a classification system that establishes water quality classes and the associated quality standards, and identifies the administrative processes and requirements related to the classification of water.

The classification standards establish designated uses, related characteristic of those uses, and criteria necessary to protect the uses, and establish specific conditions for certain activities such as the discharge of wastewater.

Meanwhile, the EMB also threw its support behind Cimatu's resolve to strictly implement laws and programs on clean air, clean water and solid waste management.

"Clean air, clean water and solid waste management are vital in making our communities liveable," Cimatu told a recent meeting with DENR senior officials and regional directors.

He added: "The agency's resources must be directed toward ensuring clean air, clean water and proper solid waste management because these have the most impact to our people."

For just three months in office, Cimatu already spearheaded the cleanup of waterways in Bocaray Island and Iloilo province for the benefit of communities who depend on these waters for food and livelihood.

Source: Department of Environment and natural resources