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A Bitter Taste

Tanjung Benoa Residents in South Bali Forced to Drink Brackish Water Due Poor Water Supply from Regency’s Water Board

(6/17/2012) A breakdown in the public water supply to the Tanjung Benoa peninsula, adjacent to the Nusa Dua Complex in South Bali, has left local residents and some hotels, restaurants and businesses in that area with uncertain fresh water supplies.

And, according to a report in NusaBali, it has left many people living on Tanjung Benoa, quite literally, with a bitter taste in their mouths. A fresh water crisis that has lingered on for almost an entire year has forced many to purchase tanks of fresh water shipped in on large trucks. Others, unable to incur the cost of shipping water to the businesses or residents, have resorted to tapping into wells. Part of a narrow peninsula surrounded by ocean water and the problem of seawater intrusion into the water table means the water sourced from local wells is brackish.

The village chief of Tanjung Benoa, I Wayan Kembar, admitted the problem, saying: “This is an old problem. I forget when it first started, what’s clear it started before I was elected village chief.”

Trying to serve his community, Kembar has repeatedly written to the Badung Water Board (PDAM-Badung) with copies to the regent of Badung. But, until now, his letters have yet to be dignified with a reply. “This year I have written twice to PDAM-Badung with copies to the Regent,” Kembar added.

Kembar told how when piped water first entered the Tanjung Benoa community in 2002, local citizens were well pleased with the improvement this represented in their daily lives. Later, however, the supply of PDAM water became intermittent, forcing many to tap into ground water supplies.

Kembar says the sea water that has seeped into local wells has made the water consumed by the people of Tanjung Benoa brackish, so much so that the saltiness of a cup of coffee made with water from these wells is noticeably bitter tasting.

According to Kembar, the anger of local citizens continues to mount as they continue to receive bills for PDAM service despite having to supplement the uncertain regency water with salty water drawn from wells. The village chief complained that it is becoming more and more difficult to keep the emotions of his fellow villagers in check, with protest demonstrations a reak possibility if the situation remains unresolved.

Those villagers able to afford the cost are purchasing tanks of water from local trucks must pay Rp. 150,000 (US$16) per load.

Contacted by NusaBali, Daniel J. Fony, manager of PT Tirtartha Buanamulia, the private sector partner of PDAM appointed to provide fresh water to Tanjung Benoa, acknowledged the complaints of the local residents. He blamed the problem on the deterioration of the piping supplying water to the community and the impact of growing demands for piped water.

Fony insists that only some of the residents of Tanjung Benoa are being affected by  poor water supply, saying there is a plan in hand to install new 500 millimeter piping through the area. Adding: “I ask everyone to be patient, the 500 millimeter piping will answer all these complaints.”

Foney said the installation of the new piping will commence in about two months time.