Stakeholders’ Meeting at LGU Sta. Maria, I.Sur (a); Orientation of the water balance project at PENRO Cagayan (b) and Coordination and site visit at the Pinacanauan-Tumauini watershed in Isabela (c)

Water scarcity is now an important issue that threatens the survival of humanity and the earth and needs immediate attention.  Information on the present status of water resources through estimation of water balance in critical watersheds is very vital to provide a basis for water resources management.

Water balance estimation is an important tool to assess the current status and trends in water resource availability in an area over a specific period and provides a comprehensive understanding of the water flow system and water resources in an area (Thakural 2009).

Pinsal Falls within the Sta. Maria Watershed in Sta Maria, Ilocos Sur

It supports decision-making by assessing and improving the validity of visions, scenarios and strategies (Moriarty, 2007).

The information generated would, therefore, serve as a guide for the stakeholders as basis for the formulation of policies and strategies in the management.

With the impact of climate change and the unabated urbanization, available water resources are expected to be under stress.

Water resources management is based on existing laws and regulations and is being implemented by various government agencies. As one of the research centers of the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), the Watershed and Water Resources Research Development and Extension Center (WWRRDEC) is mandated to conduct research, development and extension (RDE) on watershed and water resources.

Relative to this, the Center is presently implementing a project titled “Water Balance Estimation of Selected Watersheds in Luzon Island, Philippines” within two (2) priority watersheds in Northern Luzon, one in Sta Maria Watershed in Ilocos Sur (Region 1) and at the Pinacanauan-Tumauini Watershed in Isabela and Cagayan Provinces (Region 2).

The project is in collaboration with concerned agencies such as the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Local Water Utility Administration (LWUA), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Administration (PAGASA), concerned LGUs, the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) and Forest Management Bureau (FMB) of the DENR.

The project is a landmark research undertaking of the institution to generate a science-based information on the water inflow and outflow of critical watersheds through the use of hydrologic modelling.

Levelling of the water balance project was done during the last quarter of 2021 with PENRO and CENRO Bantay including other stakeholders consisting of national government agencies (NGAs) and local government units (LGUs).

It highlighted the conduct of orientation and stakeholders’ meetings among different government agencies and LGUs wherein the project rationale, objectives, research activities and expected output were presented.

Areas of cooperation were laid out in terms of sharing relevant data from the different agencies as inputs to the estimation of water balance.

These include secondary and primary data such as hydrometeorological, physiographic data and thematic maps.

The benefits to be derived from the project were presented included among others the strengthened partnership and cooperation between DENR and LGUs on devolved and other forest management functions.

Likewise, the data to be generated shall be used as basis in the crafting of policies for the effective management of the water resources.

WWRRDEC had coordinated with PENRO/CENRO Bantay, PENRO Abra, CENRO Bangued, PENRO Cagayan, CENROs Tuguegarao, CENRO Cabagan, Isabela, NWRB, RBCO, PAG-ASA, NIA and LGUs of Sta. Maria, Burgos, Narvacan and San Emilio in Ilocos Sur as well as LGUs of Villaviciosa and Pillar of Abra relative to the implementation of the project.

Through a series of coordination activities with these concerned offices, secondary data were already collected such as watershed characterization reports (WCRs), vulnerability assessment reports (VA), Integrated Water Resources Management Plan (IWMP), Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP), thematic maps, Community Land Use Plan and Municipal Plan as well as assist in primary data gathering.

Other areas of collaboration include sharing of the needed equipment tools for the project such as flowmeter, rain gauge and others.

Actual primary data gathering on hydrologic data (cross section water depth, velocity, etc.) was initially conducted within the Sta. Maria watershed during the 1st quarter of 2022.

Likewise, collection of soil sample, land cover/landuse mapping and marking of staff gauge were done.

The project is expected to be implemented in Isabela and Cagayan Provinces on the 2nd semester of 2022 for the Pinacanauan-Tumauini watershed.

Initial coordination with PENRO Cagayan and CENRO Cabagan were already conducted. The project is expected to be presented to the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) in Tuguegarao for possible collaboration and support.

The project has a duration of three (3) years of implementation and is expected to generate science-based information on the estimate of the amount of water inputs and outputs in selected watersheds through the use of open-source hydrological models and evaluate their applicability to watersheds in the Philippine setting.

The outcome of the project is expected to standardize a tool in the estimation of water balance that would be adopted and included in the DENR’s watershed characterization activities.

Likewise, the project would pave the way for the creation of policies for the management of water resources based on the estimated water balance of the watersheds and for stakeholders to come up with measures for the rational utilization of water from different users based on available water supply for the sustainability of water resources. Estrella E. Patrimonio, WWRRDEC