Learning watershed information portal opens

BATAC CITY, Ilocos Norte. Feb. 25 (PNA) — To promote science-based information and decide critical issues based on facts, a new website featuring real-time monitoring of critical watershed areas in the Philippines is now available to end users, particularly those involved in disaster preparedness and risk reduction from the national line agencies down to the remotest barangays in the country.

Hosted by the state-run Mariano Marcos State Universty (MMSU) in Batac City, the National Research and Development Project for Watershed Management in the Philippines (NRDPWMP) formally launched recently an online database containing vital information, researchers and scientists gather from at least three learning watersheds initially identified by a team of experts to establish a long termwatershed database in support of science-based policy and management decision making.

Funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and National Resources Research and Development-Department of Science and Technology (PCARRD-DOST), the project was established jointly with the MMSU, University of the Philippines-Los Banos, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Dr. Rex Victor Cruz, Chancellor of the UPLB and project leader of the NRDPWMP said information such as vulnerability assessment, characterization of watershed’s physical, bio-ecological and socio-economic aspects including installation of instrumentation and real-time monitoring of watersheds can now be accessible through the web-based watershed management system.

To date, there are at least three project sites featured in the website. These are the Pagsanjan-Lumban watershed in Laguna de Bay basin, Saug in Davao and Compostela province and Quiaoit river in Batac City, Ilocos Norte.

All three have in place automated weather stations and solar-powered water level monitoring stations to monitor stream discharge and meteorological conditions to provide real-time information readily available to communities to aid in disaster risk management.

“What we want is for watershed information, knowledge and tools to be readily available to our watershed stakeholders so that they can make decisions on the basis of information and science and not merely on the basis of intuition, gut feeling or even worse, on the basis of political consideration,” said Cruz.

Also, the project leader is inviting other government agencies such as the Department of Energy, National Power Corporation, National Irrigation Authority and other concerned institutions to partner with the NRDPWMP and share theirwatershed database in the portal to make readily available information to those working in watersheds.

To keep pace with the fast trend of information technology, the project’s first phase was started in 2012 to be completed in 2015.

“We hope to expand more in the next phase by adding seven more learningwatersheds in the web,” Cruz added.

For her part, Dr. Miriam Pascua, president of MMSU has lauded the project staff for coming out with a new portal www.philwatershed.org.

“We are looking forward to an explicit development agenda that would really use this information technology now to translate into economic efficiency and at the same time, we could also use this to respond to the risks brought about by climate change,” she said hoping this would “inspire other stakeholders to cooperate in sharing whatever information they have because it is in the spirit of synergism and collaboration that we will succeed in our quest to advance our country and help alleviate the challenges we are facing such as poverty reduction and food security,” she said.(PNA)