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Bali's Coming Desert Storm

Bali's Growing Water Crisis: Government Bans New Water Wells in Southern Areas of Badung Regency.

(6/26/2010) Radar Bali reports that the use of sub-terrain water has reached critical levels prompting the Badung regency Environmental Agency (BLH) to halt the issuance of new permits for water wells in its southern region. According to BLH officials, reservoirs of sub-terrain water have been so badly depleted that subsidence, salt-water intrusion and declining water quality are now a fact-of-life in Bali's south.

The chief of the Badung BLH, I Gede Putra Suteja, said that his agency has given warnings and reminders to those agencies that have given well permits to exercise caution. Suteja explained: "Indeed we do not have concrete data, but from joint reviews carried out with Udayana University we know that the intrusion of salt water is now up to 100 meters from the shore. Can you imagine (the consequences) if the intrusions areas in Kuta begin to connect?"

"This is a natural result of the (over) exploitation of water resources. Thus, in the southern regions limitations must be introduced, while in the north water is still available," added Suteja. Those building in the southern areas of south Badung must now seek connections from the public water utility (PDAM).

The need to seek out connections to public water utilities is going to prove problematic for those constructing homes, villas and hotels in South Bali. PDAM coverage in these areas is incomplete. Suteja acknowledged the lack of piped water, saying he hoped PDAM would be able to tap into water supplies from the Badung and Yeh Penet rivers. He also pointed to plans for the future introduction of desalination facilities to help supplement water supplies.

Adding to concerns over Bali's growing water crisis, Suteja warned, "actually, the situation of salt water intrusion in Sanur is even more acute."

As a stop-gap measure, the Regent of Badung has issued a special regulation (Perbup Nomor 24 of 2010) requiring every building owner to capture and use rain water by make absorption holes. For every 25 square meters of building area land and building owners must establish a minimum of 3 absorption holes measuring 10 centimeters wide and 100 centimeters deep.

Admitting that the Regent's ruling lacks sanctions for non-compliance, Suteja said the rule took effect from April 2010 and should form a part of every zoning permit issued by Dinas Cipta Karya.