MWSS, tree foundation assure sustained tree planting to boost Metro Manila’s watershedsred

LA MESA DAM PLANT & TREE NURSERY. Water officials led by outgoing MWSS Chairman and Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco (4th from right) leads the ground breaking of the Million Trees Foundation 5-hectare nursery at the La Mesa Watershed. Others in the photo are from (L-R) Prime Infrastructure Holdings Corporation official Melvin Tan, MWSS RO ADA Christopher Chuegan, Santa Clara International Corporation founder Nick Linao, MTFI President and Executive Director Melandrew Velasco, Manila Water Corporation President J.V Emmanuel de Dios, incoming MWSS Administrator Leonor “Bobby” Cleofas, Maynilad President Ramoncito S. Fernandez and Bulacan Bulk Water head of operations Emman Avengoza.

QUEZON CITY – Sustained tree planting and reforestation at major watersheds.

This in effect is the goal which outgoing Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage system (MWSS) Chairman and OIC Administrator stressed during his term at the government water agency.

This Velasco emphasized again as he led guests recently at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI) plant and saplings nursery at the La Mesa Dam Watershed area in Quezon City.

Chairman Velasco was joined in the event by incoming Administrator Engr. Leonor Cleofas, incoming Board Chairman Justice Jose Ricafort Hernandez, MWSI President and CEO Ramoncito S. Fernandez, Bulacan Bulk Water Head of Operations Emman Avengoza and Santa Clara International Corporation Founder Nick Linao.

“I am proud to be part of this significant step towards environment sustainability,” Velasco said at the event.

As MWSS chief, Velasco initiated the Annual Million Tree Challenge (AMTC) project of MWSS aimed at rehabilitating seven critical watersheds– Angat, Ipo,Kaliwa, La Mesa, Laguna Lake, Umiray, and Upper Marikina including Manila Bay–that are essential in the water supply chain in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

The AMTC is on track, achieving more than its target of four million trees in four years, he said.

“We have to join hands to address the state of our watersheds as these greatly affect our water supply. I am grateful to the proponents of Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI) for joining together for a noble cause,” he added, emphasizing that water is not only used to sustain basic life but also to give more quality to the way of living.

The outgoing MWSS chief also thanked MWSS concessionaires Manila Water, Maynilad, and Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation (LCWDC); and other project partners for supporting the AMTC.

“AMTC would not have been as successful without the support of the concessionaires and other civic organizations,” he said.

The establishment of a plant and tree nursery is an integral component of MTFI programs. Under a Memorandum of Agreement between MWSS and MTFI, the latter was granted site for the nursery in the La Mesa Watershed area.

MTFI is the non-government partner organization of MWSS in the implementation of the AMTC. It will ensure the sustainability of AMTC beyond the project’s five-year duration and was granted administrative and operational authority to develop the project further. The nursery will serve as support and production arm of the AMTC where seeds of plants and tree species to be transplanted by institutional partners in identified watershed beneficiaries will be germinated.

About 500,000 saplings of narra (Pterocarpus indicus), ylang ylang (Cananga odorata), and bamboo, among others will initially be produced.

According to MTFI President and Executive Director Melandrew T. Velasco, the nursery is very important in helping the watersheds and planting of trees in terms of rehabilitating the seven critical watersheds areas.

“Tree-planting within the watersheds is critical because if there are no trees in the mountains, our water treatment plants would have to deal with a high amount of turbidity when it rains. This will help us ensure potable water for everyone,” he said.

Velasco said the Foundation wants to make the five-hectare area at La Mesa Watershed as the center of activities such as reforestation, training, seminars.

“There is so much to be done, and we will not stop working. We are excited about the next fiveor ten years as we will see how this nursery becomes the center of activity for AMTC,” he added.

MTFI will also look into the specific needs of other critical watersheds in the country identified by DENR and help in their massive reforestation and rehabilitation.

As Gen, Velasco ended his tour of duty at the water agency, he will be busy with the Philippine National Police Retirees Association, Inc. (PRAI) which is seeking a seat at the House of Representatives in the May 2022 elections. He is the number one nominee of PRAI, an organization working for the benefit and welfare of all retired men and women in the uniformed service of the PNP and their dependents. (Claire Morales True)

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