Researchers from NwSSU conducts a survey of the possibility of coming up with a water user fee.
Its purpose is to improve the water supply in the Calbayog City.
This is possible through the protection of the Calbayog Pan-as Hayiban Protected Landscape (CPHPL).
The premise was there is occasional insufficient water supply in the city. According to the local residents, there is a low water supply early in the morning. If you are in an elevated area, water seldom is unavailable during peak hours from 5:30 am to 7 am.
Also, previous researchers show unsustainable farming practices like slash and burn farming in CPHPL.
Slash and burn and other land-use practices affect water supply.
Thus, conducting a survey for the protection of watershed areas is necessary. To do this it needs an approach called payment for the ecosystem or environmental services.
So, the team asked the lowland water users if they are willing to pay for sustainable water supply. Likewise, if farmers are willing to shift their farming practices to a sustainable one.
After six months, the team finished the valuation study in Calbayog City. This was through the funding of the DENR Region 8 and with the help of provincial ENR in Catbalogan.
The team conducted a random survey of 700 households from lowland water users. Meanwhile, about 300 upland farmers living in the watershed protected area.
For the lowland water users, there are only 412 who responded to the interview. Others were busy and they are not present in their houses during the field survey.
From the results, there are only a few people who knew about the main source of the raw water which is the CPHPL.
Some perceived that raw water is from Ton-ok falls.
Over half (56.3%) of the respondents perceived that it is from the water district.
A little over half (51.8%) of the lowland water users have an alternative water source.
These are from water vendors, deep wells, and a little 13 % are using rainwater harvesting facility.
The real question in the study is, “ are you willing to pay for an extra amount for the protection of the CPHPL?”
Only 46.6 % are willing to pay for this. 53.4% are not willing to pay.
One reason was that they cannot afford to pay any extra amount for what they are currently paying. A majority (81.9%) did not feel the effect of insufficient water supply.
Here is a summary of the willingness to pay vis-a-vis their awareness about the CPHPL. This tells us that if they are aware of the watershed, they are willing to pay for the protection.
For upland farmers, there were 350 farmer respondents out of 2, 820 households (as of 2014 , CPHPL Manual).
The study shows that majority of them were willing to accept compensation for land use change. Their willingness to accept is due to shifting cultivation and slash and burn.
But, there are few lowland water users who are willing to pay for the watershed protection. Meanwhile, the majority of farmers are willing to accept this compensation. Thus, in this case, the possibility of payment for ecosystem services is not workable.
Yet, with the governments’ funds, watershed protection is still a good thing to pursue. But, this would also entail other water users will share the cost of protection (e.g. NIA, Electric Cooperatives and Water Districts).
Even so, the cost or value of watershed protection is as follows.
Please see table below.
These values are the people’s perception of the value of watershed. It appears that lowland water users have low perceived value over the upland water users.
This is because upland farmers got their daily living in watershed protected areas. But, lowland water users were not able to link watershed provisioning services (e. g. water) of CPHPL to themselves.
As such, there should be an environmental awareness campaign about the watershed. Failure to do so will decrease the willingness to pay over not willing to pay for ecosystem services.
How about you?
Are you willing to pay for watershed protection for improved water supply?