A sound collaboration between local government units (LGUs) and local water districts is crucial for effective budget utilization after more funds are downloaded to local governments post-Mandanas.
Santa Maria (Bulacan) Water District General Manager Carlos Santos Jr. highlighted this during a recent webinar titled “Assessing National Government Support Programs for LGUs and Local Provision of Water Supply” organized by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
When the Supreme Court ruling on the Mandanas petition takes effect in 2022, LGUs will receive a higher share in the internal revenue allotment (IRA).   
Santos, a discussant at the webinar, noted that the biggest concern of local water districts (LWDs) is funding their projects on water source development, expansion and improvement of water supply facilities, investment requirements for sanitation projects, and other improvement programs.
“Funding for these programs is not easy to acquire and takes time as well. Local water districts can no longer rely solely on their annual revenues for operations to support these capital-intensive activities,” he lamented.
Moreover, he explained that some of the objectives stated in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and the Philippine Water Supply and Sanitation Master Plan 2019-2030 are “quite high and require an enormous amount of capital investment year on year”.
Santos hopes LWDs will also benefit from the “anticipated increase” in LGUs’ IRA.  
“It would be [a] music to the ears of LWDs to partake in the anticipated increase [in] [the] internal revenue allotment of LGUs brought about by the Supreme Court ruling. It would be beneficial to LWDs as this would [be] a source of ‘free’ funds,” he said.  
Aside from funding, he also cited other issues faced by LWDs.  
While operational parameters “may be common” to water service providers, he said it is challenging to align the regulatory parameters among private and nonprofit operators, including LWDs and LGU-run water utilities.
He also mentioned that further utilization of groundwater has “become critical and poses environmental risks”.
Santos also noticed that some water districts are “not actually performing well and fall short in [their] mandates to provide safe and potable water supply”, which may affect the national targets in water supply and sanitation.
There is also a need to expand the water supply distribution system to provide enough water supply to the population and to develop and construct collection treatment and disposal facilities for wastewater. ###
You may watch the webinar at https://www.facebook.com/PIDS.PH/videos/279221600515684. For more videos of PIDS events, go to https://www.pids.gov.ph/videos.

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