National Water Resources Board (Philippines)

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National Water Resources Board
National Water Resources Board (NWRB).svg
Agency overview
Formed 1974
Agency executive
  • Forester Vicente S Paragas, Executive Director
Parent department Department of Environment and Natural Resources

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) is the leading government agency for the water sector in the Philippines, regarding water resources and potable water; it is conferred with policy-making, regulatory and quasi-judicial functions within the Philippine government.[1] The NWRB is an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and responsible for ensuring the optimum exploitation, utilization, development, conservation and protection of the country's water resource, consistent with the principles[2] of "Integrated Water Resource Management". The NWRB Board is composed of five cabinet secretaries, plus a representative from academia and the NWRB's executive director; the board is chaired by the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources.


The predecessor of the NWRB is the National Water Resources Council (“NWRC”), which was created in 1974 under Presidential Decree No. 424, otherwise known as the “Integrated Reorganization Plan”. It was subsequently renamed as NWRB pursuant to Executive Order No. 124-A. Under the said decree, the NWRB is tasked among others, to:

  • Coordinate and integrate water resource development activities of the country;
  • Formulate general criteria, methods and standards for data collection, project investigation, formulation, planning design and feasibility evaluation, and rules and regulations for the exploitation and optimum utilization of water resources;
  • Review and approve water resource development plans and programs of other agencies;
  • Undertake river basin surveys, inventories and appraisals, and develop comprehensive basin-wide plans of storage and control to maximize the conservation and multipurpose use of water;
  • Undertake hydrologic surveys and establish, operate and maintain observation station networks and centralized water resources data center;
  • Conduct and/or promote special studies and researches with other government or agencies on related aspects of water resources development.

The NWRB is also tasked to advise the National Economic and Development Authority (“NEDA”) on matters pertaining to water resources development projects and programs; and recommend general policies and guidelines and short/long range plans and programs for water resources development.

In 1976, Presidential Decree No. 1067, otherwise known as the “Water Code of the Philippines” was enacted. Based on the principles that: (a) “all water belongs to the State”; and (b) the State may allow the use or development of its waters by administrative concession”, the NWRB was instituted as a “water resource regulator” tasked to regulate and control the utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of all water resources.

The specific functions of the NWRB, as a "Water Resource Regulator", include among others, (a) the issuance water permits for the appropriation, and use of waters; and (b) adjudication of disputes relating to the appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, control and conservation, protection of waters.

In 1977, the Board of Power and Waterworks (BPW) was abolished pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1206. The function of the BPW that were inherited from the Public Service Commission as regards waterworks systems, were later transferred to the NWRB, instituting the NWRB as an “economic regulator” of waterworks systems.

In 2002, the approval of tariffs for water districts was transferred to the NWRB from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), pursuant to Executive Order No. 123. In the same executive order, the membership of the NWRB Board was changed to its present composition.

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