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Bali in Danger of Becoming High and Dry

Experts Warn Bali's Water Deficit Running at Critical Level with Urgent Steps Needed to Curb Illegal Water Exploitation.

(8/7/2010) Jakarta Post quotes an environment and water expert as warning that Bali's administrators must take steps to control groundwater use, curbing excessive exploitation by hotels and industries.

A representative of the Environmental Management Center for Bali and Nusa Tenggara, Sudirman, warns of serious environmental consequences if administrators do not toughen current measures. The current system of "advising" commercial users to limit their water consumption, according to Sudirman, is too weak and lacks legal grounds. He therefore calls for the issuance of bylaws that will give teeth to efforts to conserve precious groundwater.

A lack of available clean-water supplies from the island's water board has compelled many hotels, villa and other commercial operations to sink wells in order to meet their water requirements. The net result of this process is a massive demand for groundwater which far exceeds the island's ability to replenish water reservoirs.

A survey by Bali's Udayana University calculates an annual water deficit of 1.5 billion cubic meters in 1995, a number which has increased to 7.5 cubic meters five years later in 2000. By 2015 the water deficit will become 27.6 billion cubic meters.

Sudirman brands these deficits as non-sustainable, threatening water supplies for domestic households and Bali businesses. The massive deficit also threatens to turn once green areas if the island into desert-like landscapes as salt water intrudes into natural fresh-water underground reservoirs.

Island officials are increasingly scrutinizing the use of water by hotels, villas and golf course in Bali seen as major contributors to the growing water deficit that threatens Bali desire to be a clean and green island.