HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENTAL GROWTH OF THE ASSOCIATION
The Philippine Association of Water Districts, Inc. or PAWD (pa-wad) is the umbrella organization of all duly organized water districts (WDs) in the Philippines. A few pioneer water districts including those established in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Marawi, San Pablo, Davao and Cebu founded it on August 31, 1974.
The water district concept was born out of necessity with the failure and subsequent abolition of the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA), then supervisory agency for provincial water supply in the country. The government, after two studies, had commissioned the Adrian Wilson and James Montgomery, a joint-consultancy firm, to conduct another exhaustive study and submit recommendations for the formulation of a national policy that would ensure Filipinos in the countryside access to safe, potable, adequate and reliable water supply anytime of the day.
The recommendations of the Adrian Wilson and James Montgomery resulted to the enactment of the Presidential Decree No. 198, otherwise known as the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973, to wit: “Declaring a national policy favoring local operation and control of water systems; authorizing the formation of local water districts and providing for the goverment and administration of such districts; chartering a national administration to facilitate improvement of local water utilities; granting said administration such powers as are necessary to optimize public service from water utility operations, and for other purposes.”
The idea of creating a national umbrella organization for all the water districts saw light on August 31, 1974 when Mr. Emmet Lowry, a consultant from the James M. Montgomery firm, initiated a meeting of water district officers to discuss this proposal. Eleven water district officers, all General Managers, then attended the meeting. These General Managers comprised the core members of the PAWD and thereafter became charter members. This explains the reason why in the PAWD, membership was then represented by the general manager.
In a meeting after the Annual LWUA-Water District Forum in Legaspi, Albay, sometimes in June 1978, the PAWD was reborn with an amended constitution to accommodate the Chairman of water district Boards. Thus, the Board of Governors and Executive Council were created. Their functions simulated the working relations of Board of Directors and General Managers of water districts. The Board of Governors lays down policies while the Executive Council implements policies set by the Board.
It was also established as it now stands the membership in the PAWD is by water districts and not by individual members. Member-water districts are represented by their Chairmen and General Managers. As the number of water districts grew, the formation of the regional and provincial organizations became necessary for more effective interaction with smaller water districts. Currently, the PAWD is effectively a federation of regional water districts.
Through the years, PAWD has shown that it was no mere paper organization. A lot of people could still remember vividly that chaotic year 1986, following the first EDSA uprising. The PAWD then stood as one and called the attention of the new leaders, after the fall of Marcos, and secured solid support for water district concept.
The transition from the private character of water districts to government-owned and-controlled corporations (GOCCs) was another crisis that brought into the fore the real mettle of PAWD. Water districts were originally quasi-public corporations. However, on September 13, 1991, the Supreme Court ruled that water districts are GOCCs, and should therefore be placed under the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Commission on Audit (COA). PAWD, through various working committees, coordinated with the Government Insurance System (GSIS), department of Budget and Management (DBM), COA, CSC and other government agencies to ensure smooth transition without dislocating the water districts’ vital service of providing safe water to their consumers.
PAWD once again proved that collective action and cooperation among member-water districts is certainly the key to PAWD’s success. On March 11, 2010, a law that exempts water districts from paying income tax was enacted. Under the Republic Act 10026, savings from the income tax exemption shall be used for capital development expenditure in order to expand water service coverage and provide safe and clean water.
On March 16, 2010, PAWD, staying true to its commitment of promoting self-reliant water districts, entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Philippine Water Revolving Fund Support Program (PWRF-SP) to put in place a Philippine Water Operator’s Partnership Program.
One of the aims of the collaboration is to create a platform for domestic utilities to foster national peer to peer learning partnership based on mutual benefit and access international expertise and know how. It also intends to support the organizational development of PAWD to serve development needs of the industry, raise awareness and interest of utilities to participate in the program and identify potential sources of funding and schemes for twinning arrangements.
The Philippine Water Operators’ Partnership consists of four components, which are twinning, training, knowledge management, and continuous improvement and benchmarking. Its primary objective is to build the capacities of the Philippine water service providers and the industry association through knowledge and experience sharing and mentoring.
As a leader in the water industry, PAWD continues to strive hard to improve the performance of water districts in the country enable them to reach un-served areas, ensure reliable and cost efficient operation, and improve water sanitation and services.
Measuring the strength of an association entails one to look at the time it has existed and the kind of progress it has made for the betterment of its membership. If an association remains standing despite the passage of time and enables to weather all the challenges with ease, thus showing its resiliency to all odds, such an association is more likely to exist even much longer. Thus, judging its performance for the last 39 years, the PAWD will surely exist even stronger for the next 39 years and beyond