Experts confer Dominican Republic needs better management and governance of water resources
Santo Domingo Dominican Republic. – The adequate management of water resources, better governance and the adequacy of the legal framework are some of the key elements that the Dominican Republic needs to find a feasible solution to the water problem.
Given the insecurity the country is experiencing with regard to the natural resource, Gilberto Reynoso, water adviser to the Executive Branch, Magdalena Lizardo, executive director of the Pareto Consulting Group and Solhanlle Bonilla, coordinator of the INTEC Climate Change Observatory, discussed the causes and the impact of the situation, during the INTEC Dialogue for Action (DIA) entitled “Water: an essential resource for development”.
“The problem of attenuating the current water situation in the Dominican Republic is one of management, not infrastructure deficit. The country is not running out of water, rather there has been no time for adequate management of resources at the national level,” pondered the adviser to Aguas del Poder Ejecutivo.
Reynoso said that for the construction of the 13 largest dams in the country, US $ 1,182 million have been invested to store a total of 2,100 million cubic meters of water.
“When making a relation between the investment and the storage structure, it is shown that each cubic meter stored has an approximate cost of RD $ 58, and unfortunately of the 2,100 million cubic meters stored, 62% is wasted, that is, we are dumping RD $ 36,000 million annually for water stored without adequate use. ”
In addition, he said that the agricultural sector uses 80% (11,000 million cubic meters) of water resources, “we call the ‘bottomless pit’, because 62% of that percentage is wasted, and for that reason, I understand that scarcity is one of the most basic problems that the Dominican Republic has, much more acute than drought,” said Reynoso during the activity coordinated by the past rector of INTEC, Rafael Toribio.
On her side, the economist Magdalena Lizardo said that the Dominican Republic has a legal framework associated with the water resource, very fragmented, with overlapping responsibilities and, in many cases, with deficiencies in regulatory matters. She stated that there are institutional dispersion and coordination weaknesses and insufficient financing for water management.
Therefore, Lizardo considers it necessary to adapt the legal framework of water resources management with the principles of Law 64-00 on Environment and Natural Resources, and with the mandates that derive from the Constitution.
When referring to the Law of Waters that was analyzed in the Congress more than two decades ago, said that “a new regime must grant rights and permits of use of water,” the reason why in his opinion it imposes changes in the form that the resource has been managed in the country.
Lizardo emphasized that the new legal framework must have an institutional framework with well-differentiated roles. “The Water Law has to define objectives, principles, institutions and instruments that ensure the environmental sustainability of the resource, social sustainability of its services, economic sustainability of its uses and exploitation.”
Also, during the INTEC Dialogue for Action, Professor Solhanlle Bonilla-Duarte, pointed out as necessary the integral management of the landscape that provides vital ecosystem services and governance in the management of water resources. In addition, he raised the need for guidelines and defined roles, creation of financial instruments for the management of ecosystem services and the sustainable use of water resources.
Also, Bonilla-Duarte said that there is a lack of efficiency in water management for irrigation, environmentally adjusted water tariffs and research for planning and decision making.