Sustaining life through watershed management: Efforts continue to ensure protection of Amburayan River


A team ready to dive into the deep river basins, geared to cross angry river water current, collects water samples and rush it to the laboratory testing center found either 40 to 90 miles away within a hefty 24- hours.

The above scenario pictures the challenging yet thrilling process of water collection activities by the JVOFI team, representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and, partner communities.

The undertaking is a way to assess and evaluate the present condition of the river since water samples will be subject to laboratory test. Mineral and chemical findings will become the basis in determining the appropriate interventions in improving the river’s state.

Certain chemicals and mineral contents also called “parameters” are to be identified as per standards set by DENR.

The activity is part of the requirements in an attempt to designate the river as a Water Quality Management Area (WQMA). It is one of the goals of the PhilAm funded project, Protecting and Defending the Amburayan River Basin and Watershed through Good Governance and Active Peoples’ Participation.

Designation of the river as WQMA aims to ensure the availability of clean water to present and future generations through the protection and revival of the water quality especially along rivers and coastal areas.

Amburayan River emerges from the small water systems of Atok, Kibungan, Bakun and Kapangan in Benguet. From its source, it flows to La Union, and Ilocos Sur where it finally finds its spillway to South China Sea.

The indigenous communities where the river traverses are dependent on the life it brings. It has since provided irrigation for the farmer’s fields, and a home to diverse fresh water aquatic resources like algae, fishes, shrimps, clams and river weeds (can be eaten raw).

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) describes designating WQMAs as “an important tool in enforcing the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 as it calls for protection of water quality of river systems that are essential for livelihood and public health.”

Water collection activities will be conducted for 10 months from May to February 2016. Three water collection activities were already conducted at present.

Other activities in support to the project includes the implementation of tree planting activities within the areas covered by the project through mobilization of various people’s organizations// IVAN P. LAYAG