Mon, 14 Jul 2003

Millions of Jakartans to suffer water shortages

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Millions of Jakartans, who use groundwater from artesian wells, will suffer water shortages up until August due to the current dry season, an official said.

Head of the forecasting and services division of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) Achmat Zakir said the water crisis had begun to affect many areas in the city earlier last month.

Zakir said the areas affected were mostly those that did not have access to piped water and, in which, water pumps could no longer pump up groundwater.

"I hope the city administration will continually monitor the situation as the condition will worsen, as although there may be some rainfall, it would not affect the water table," he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

He said the rainfall only reached around 30 millimeters per month and would not affect the groundwater during this year's dry season.

The amount of rainfall needed to raise the water table would be around 150 millimeter per month, he said.

According to Zakir, the ground surface in the city is very bad for water conservation as most of the land is covered by buildings and concreted facilities.

"Therefore, people are advised to minimize the use of water as two months (without water) is not a short time to wait."

According to the data from the Jakarta Mining Agency, the total consumption of clean water in the city is around 413 million cubic meters per year or some 1.1 million cubic meter per day based on the assumption that Jakarta's population is 10.42 million.

City-owned tap water company PAM Jaya and its foreign business partners can only supply some 51.25 of the total needs for clean water.

The Jakarta Environment Management Agency (BPLHD) previously revealed that 10 districts in the city were experiencing water shortages, including Penjaringan, Cilincing, Tanjung Priok, Koja, Pademangan, and Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta; Cengkareng and Tambora in West Jakarta; and Sawah Besar and Kemayoran in Central Jakarta.

There are some 2.09 million people living in areas affected by water shortages where the depth of groundwater is between 12 meters and 16 meters, with a fluctuation in the water table of between 6 meters and 8 meters.

Other districts that should also be alert to possible shortages, according to the agency, include Grogol Petamburan, Kebon Jeruk, Kembangan, Taman Sari in West Jakarta; Gambir, Menteng, Tanah Abang, Setiabudi, Senen, Matraman, Johor Baru, and Cempaka Putih in Central Jakarta, and Pulo Gadung and Cakung in East Jakarta.

Some 2.35 million residents occupy these areas.

Separately, PAM Jaya's director Didiet Haryadi confirmed that PAM Jaya had received reports of water shortages in the city.

"I have received reports of water shortages from several areas. The pumps can no longer pump up groundwater from artesian wells. This does not only happen in slums, but also in luxury housing estates that are not linked to PAM Jaya," Didiet told the Post on Saturday.

He said that his company and its private partners -- PT Thames Pam Jaya and PT Pam Lyonaise Jaya -- had begun to supply clean piped water to those areas.

According to Didiet, there are some 111 water trucks available for transporting water -- 36 trucks owned by PD Pam Jaya and 75 others owned by municipalities and regencies which were provided by the Ministry for Settlements and Regional Infrastructure last year.

"We supply the water for free," he said, adding that customers of the city-owned company had not experienced any shortages so far.