Water Access in Jakarta: Condition Status

Between those who consume it too much, those who lack of it, those who waste it and those who do not have access to it. We can never stop talking about WATER. An indispensable and yet so poorly distributed resource.

According to the last World Bank update in June 2017, over 663 million people in the world still lack access to improved drinking water sources. In Indonesia, according to JMP Joint Monitoring Program from UNICEF and WHO) 2016 report, 89.52% which represents 30 million of people, do not have access to safe drinking water source.

Jakarta has piped water system built during the Dutch colonization in 1930’s. After the independence in 1945, the service was transferred to the local government owned company known as PDAM. It was Jakarta’s special purpose vehicle to develop a wide-coverage piped-water-supply to the city. By promoting the policy that aims to reduce or restrict deep groundwater utilization significantly due to the excessive abstraction of deep groundwater by the commercial entities, or to guaranty good water quality service to people.

In 1996, the company had severe problem in enhancing their service due to financial and management problem. In 1998, the idea of PPP (public Private Partnership) was adopted and its application resulted in an agreement between Jakarta Government and 2 private investors: Suez from France (Palyja) and Thames water from UK, named now Aetra.

Jakarta’s water problems start with poor infrastructure that allows human waste and rubbish to contaminate supplies that travel roughly 80 kilometers from the hills where Jakarta’s main reservoir is located. Even after being processed at the city’s water treatment plants the water takes another journey through leaky pipes that ensure it is no longer drinkable once it reaches people’s homes.

As there is no municipal sewage system in Jakarta, most household waste is sent to a septic tank located somewhere under your garden. Poorly constructed or old septic tanks or septic holes could leak raw sewage which eventually leaches down into the groundwater supply.

However, 30% of Jakarta people rely on river and ground water for washing and drinking, getting the water from wells built next to the house. This causes the “land subsidence”, meaning that the land is sinking and sea water is invading wells. Indeed, in 2017, it has reported that salty water is found in wells located in Block M area, 15 km from the sea.

If not contaminated by sea water, it has been stated that up to 80% of groundwater in Jakarta is polluted with pathogenic, disease causing bacteria, such as e-coli. Indeed, sanitation condition in the capital city is still critical. Approximately 45.000 people (data Susenas BPS 2013) do not have access to toilets in the city.

The rapid pace of urbanization in Jakarta and the lack of investment funds for constructing and maintaining water infrastructures conduct to this sad condition.

©Mathilde D.

However, there is no major water borne diseases, such as cholera, diphtheria, outbreak in the city, neither in the country. During the Dutch colonization, boiling water before drinking has been spread all over the archipelago, resulting that 100% of the Indonesian people will boil their water before drinking, reducing considerably the water borne diseases such as gastro-enteritis.

Nowadays, expatriates and middle call people in Jakarta do not spend time and resources to boil water for drinking purpose. Indonesia is witnessing a major behavioral shift toward dependency on bottled water. Indonesia consumed 15.7 billion liters of bottled water, making it one of the largest total consumers in Asia. When there is such little public trust in government to provide clean water, no wonder business of bottled water is booming.

Originally posted on : https://lepetitjournal.com/vivre-a-jakarta/leau-jakarta-etat-des-lieux-156666