NIA leads creation of management body for Jalaur Watershed

A Technical Working Group (TWG) for the management of Jalaur watershed area was formed by the National Irrigation Administration Regional Office 6 (NIA 6).

This, as environmental protection and watershed preservation continue to be top priorities of the implementation of Western Visayas’ biggest irrigation project, the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Stage II (JRMP II).

In its latest move, NIA convened with partner National Government Agencies (NGAs), Local Government Units (LGU) and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).  Held Tuesday, created was TWG for JRMP II Watershed.

Present were Mayor Alex A. Centena of the Municipality of Calinog and the Chairman of Jalaur River Basin Management Board, Mayor John H. Tarrosa of the Municipality of Zarraga, Soledad Sucaldito, Iloilo Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, Dr. Jessica Salas of Kahublagan Sang Panimalay Foundation, Inc., Susan Calaor, Be Secure Provincial Coordinator, and Dr. Eva Leal-Lam from WVSU CAF.

With the creation of its TWG for Watershed Management, the meeting also aimed to harmonize the existing plans and programs of upper Jalaur Watershed in relation to the implementation of JRMP II Watershed Management Plan and identify watershed strategies to protect the water quality and quantity while maintaining the productivity for agricultural, commercial and other uses in its watershed area. Another is exploratory discussions with concerned agencies, LGUs and NGOs in consultation with the cultural community and formulation of localized principles for fresh water protection.

Also present were the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officers (MENRO) of the 8 municipalities with watershed areas of the province and representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Office 6, DENR Biodiversity Partnership Project (DENR BPP), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD).

Integral to the group is Provincial Environmental and Natural Resources Officer Soledad Sucaldito who presented the existing TWG of Iloilo Watershed Management Council (IWMC).  The roles and functions of the TWG for the IWMC can be adopted into the watershed management plan of JRMP II.

“The TWG will prepare, implement and monitor the JRMP II Watershed Management Plan (WMP) which is a vital component in the sustainability of our project,” said NIA Regional Manager and Concurrent JRMP II Project Manager Engr. Gerardo P. Corsiga. “This TWG will focus on the management of the Jalaur Watershed,” he added.

In an earlier interview, DENR Regional Executive Director Jim O. Sampulna lauded NIA’s efforts to include Watershed Management in its implementation. “JRMP II is perfect one because of its reforestation and watershed components…other irrigation projects in the entire country do not have these.”

JRMP II is the first large-scale reservoir dam outside of Luzon. The project is designed to harness the potential of the Jalaur River for multi-purpose use while minimizing impacts to the environment and to the community it covers. It will provide year-round irrigation to 31, 840 hectares of farm land and increase annual rice production from 140, 000 to 300, 000 metric tons. Further, it will contribute to the national rice self-sufficiency target of 7.6 percent.

Also, its 6.6 megawatts hydroelectric power and bulk water component will augment the province’s and the city’s demand for power and potable water. And finally, the generation of employment opportunities during construction and eco-cultural tourism in the areas it covers particularly the hinterlands of Calinog. /JP (Geraldine J. Galeno, PPDA A)