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The Coming Water Crisis in Bali

Bali Needs to Tap Northeastern River to Avert Water Shortage Predicted by 2015.

(5/7/2011) VIVAnews relays that the head of development planning for Bali (Bappeda), Tjokorda Ngurah Pemayun, is predicting Bali will experience a water crisis by 2015, particularly in the southern areas of the island including Badung and Denpasar. Speaking at a coordination meeting for the management of water resources (TKPSDA) on Wednesday, May 4, 2011, Pemayun said high population densities and insufficient natural support have caused the coming crisis. Pointing out that the limited carrying capacity of the natural support system is very much a factor the coming water crisis is almost inevitable.

Among the solutions being pursued by the government is the diversion of water from Unda River (Tukad Unda) in Karangasem in East Bali for use by the populations of East and South Bali.

Pemayun said his office was trying to identify investors interested in undertaking a feasibility study for the diversion of water from the island's north to the south. He admitted that confronting the issue of carrying capacity is a new dilemma for his team and was an issue left largely unaddressed in the past.

Suharto Sarwan of the Directorate General of Water Resources from the Ministry of Public Works, says the problem of water is tied to the supply and demand for water. "Demand increases, but the supply remains constant. The result: the current water crisis," he said. Addressing the unpredictability of rain, he added: "The rain is now difficult to predict. The rain season can be short or long. We therefore need better management so that water can be stored and better conserved, we need to understand both the river's sources and their courses."

He said he five responsibilities that must now be addressed are conservation, utilization, repair of damaged water sources, the involvement of the community in conservation practice and an information system on water for the public. "All five of these aspects have to be undertaken, warned Pemayun.

Ni Nyoman Sri Widhianti, a member of the Bali Environmental Agency (WALHI) told of how the water resources of Bali's south are now primarily allocated to tourism requirements, such as hotels and restaurants. "The use of water in the South is mostly for the tourism sector. The needs for water are great. Clearly, diverting water from the Tukad Unda is the best solution, as most of that water is flowing into the sea. The problem is to find a sophisticated way to divert the water. We need to do research first as the water will have to be first stored, processed and then distributed," Widhianti explained.

The proposal to utilize water from rivers in the distant northeast automatically begs the question why the waters of the two rivers flowing through Bali's capital of Denpasar are not used instead? Apparently, the waters flowing down the Badung and Ayung Rivers are sufficiently polluted as to make the exploitation of more distant rivers a more economically viable alternative.