In line with its advocacy on water security and protection of the environment, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is set to launch a noble reforestation project  in six critical watershed areas on June 23, 2017 that aims to plantone million trees every year for five years or until the end of the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Known as the “Annual Million Tree Challenge,” the location of the tree planting project launching is at the Ipo Dam in Bulacan, which is downstream of the Angat Dam, considered to be the major source of water for Metro Manila residents and some nearby provinces. The Annual Million Tree Challenge serves asthe launching activity in preparation of the 140 years of MWSS on February 18, 2018.

“Conservation of water sources and the protection of the environment have always been a part of the mandate of the MWSS,” says MWSS Administrator General Reynaldo V.Velasco in a press conference the other day. “Together with our concessionaires – Maynilad, Manila Water, Bulacan Bulk Water Project – we seek to ensure clean and potable water for all our residents. This project is to guarantee that we are also protected of natural calamities such as floods.”

He adds,” This is just the start and we hope that this Annual Million Tree Challenge will also be carried on by the next leaders who will come after us. I am elated that in a short period of time, we have gathered more than enough support to launch this Annual Million Tree Challenge.”

Aside from the Ipo Dam, five other targeted watershed areas are Umiray, Angat, La Mesa, Marikina and Laguna Lake watersheds which are all vital to Metro Manila’s sources of drinking water. After the trees are planted, the MWSS Chief assured the public that these are going to be maintained, nurtured, and protected.

He says, “Long term, we look at the integrated watershed management plan that sustains the protection of these watersheds. It is important to note that these watersheds are crucial because they directly link to our use of clean and potable water.”

Present during the Annual Million Tree Challenge press conference include: Norie Garcia, Director for Partnership & Advocacy, ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya; Lourdes Wagan, Director, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-NCR; Geodino Carpio, Chief Operating Officer, Manila Water Company Inc (MWCI); Joel Yu, Chief Regulator, MWSS-RO, Atty. Roel Espiritu, Head, Corp. Quality, Environment, Safety & Health, Maynilad Water Services Inc. (MWSI); Joel Palma President & CEO, Worldwide Fund (WWF); Winfred Paler, President of the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP); Eduvides Huang, President of the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation  (FPPF), representatives from the Philippine Water Works Association (PWWA), Department of Education, UP Mountaineers, local Government Units of General Nakar, Quezon and Bulacan, Rotary, Philippine Jaycees, Kiwanis, and other civic organizations.

“I’m happy to inform our Administrator that we are planning to plant 120,000 trees covering 300 hectares in La Mesa Watershed,” says CEO Geodino Carpio of Manila Water. “Of course we need to be sure that the trees will grow for ages to come.”

For DENR’s part, Director Lourdes Wagan says, “We laud the efforts of MWSS Administrator Velasco for spearheading this project and we will vigorously support the Annual Million Tree Challenge by providing enough seedlings to be planted at the six targeted watersheds,”

So far, the total number of committed trees for this maiden year now stands at 1,050,000 namely: MWSS at 50,000 trees; MWSS RO at 20,000; Manila Water at 120,000; Maynilad at 50,000; Bantay Kalikasan at 140,000; DENR NGP at 66,000; DENR NCR at 30,000; DENR Region IVA at 204,000; DEPED / CHED at 100,000; San Miguel / NAPOCOR at 100,000; PWWA at 20,000; WWF Philippines at 37,000; UP Mountaineers Society at 500; General Nakar at 100,000; and other sectors at 75,000.