Water Code of the Philippines: An Overview

Did you know that there is a law governing the use and ownership of water? This is Presidential Decree No. 1067, otherwise know as the Water Code of the Philippines. The Code covers  underground water, water above the ground, water in the atmosphere and the waters of the sea within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines.

The Water Code has the following objectives:

(a) To establish the basic principles and framework relating to the appropriation, control and conservation of water resources to achieve the optimum development and rational utilization of these resources;

(b) To define the extent of the rights and obligations of water users and owners including the protection and regulation of such rights;

(c) To adopt a basic law governing the ownership, appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of water resources and rights to land related thereto; and

(d) To identify the administrative agencies which will enforce the law.

The underlying principles of the Water Code are:

(a) All waters belong to the State;

(b) All waters that belong to the State cannot be subject to acquisitive prescription;

(c) The State may allow the use or development of waters by administrative concession;

(d) The utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of water resources shall be subject to the control and regulation of the government through the National Water Resources Board;

(e) Preference in the use and development of waters shall consider current usages and be responsive to the changing needs of the country.

Under the Code, a person appropriating or using natural bodies of water must secure a water permit except the following:

(a) Appropriation of water by means of hand-carried receptacles; and

(b) Bathing or washing, watering or dipping of domestic or farm animals, and navigation of watercrafts or transportation of logs and other objects by flotation.

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