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Bali warned of clean water crisis

Rapid population growth combined with uncontrolled development in Bali is likely to lead to a serious water crisis on the resort island, officials and experts have warned.

I Gede Suardjana, head of the Bali environmental agency's technical laboratory, lamented that Bali was facing a potable and clean water crisis as resources were drying up. Seawater entering ground wells has also worsened the condition, he added.

"Salty water that enters the wells is unhealthy and undrinkable," Suarjana said.
The island's serious water shortage is indicated by falling water levels in 162 out of 401 rivers in Bali. Four major volcanic lakes including Batur in Bangli regency, and Buyan, Beratan and Tamblingan in Tabanan regency, are experiencing serious sedimentation problems.

"Sedimentation in Lake Buyan has reached 100 tons per year due to the dumping of chemical fertilizers exploited from farming and other small to large-scale agricultural enterprises in Pancasari village and Bedugul resort adjacent to the lake site," Suarjana said.

Lake Buyan, one of Bali's deepest, has faced a 3.5 meter drop in water levels since 2000.
Over-exploitation of groundwater resources has contributed greatly to diminishing water resources and seawater intrusion.

Deforestation and illegal logging activities occurring in the nearby Bedugul forest conservation site, one of Bali's most important water catchment areas, has gradually reduced water resources in the three lakes.

"Hotel industries in 15 tourist sites have over-exploited groundwater. Not to mention excessive wells in households and unregistered or illegal industrial activities," he added.

According to the agency's latest study, seawater intrusion has reached Bali's most popular Kuta resort in Badung regency, Sanur in Denpasar, Lovina in Singaraja, Buleleng in North Bali and Candi Dasa in Karangasem, East Bali.

Farmers in South Denpasar areas are among the most-affected groups. Ni Nyoman Lemon, a farmer in Sidakarya village, could no longer harvest her plants.

"I just could not water my plants with such salty water. All my harvests have failed and I have lost a lot of money," Lemon said.

Lemon said her husband had dug 30 meter deep water wells.
"But, the water has become very salty over the last few months. We cannot afford to subscribe to freshwater from the city-owned water company PDAM," Lemon added.

The agency predicted the population of Bali would increase from 3.2 million in 2009 to at least five million in 2025.

PDAM is only able to provide 60 percent of the clean water necessary to supply Bali's total population. Consequently, many Balinese rely on wells for water.

The Bali administration recently issued a new regulation to control the excessive use of groundwater for business and industrial purposes.

Environmentalists and some government officials say the problems could deepen unless the local administration makes significant investment and people start conserving water.
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