Pipe dreams for cleaner water

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Media : The Jakarta Post

Date : Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Page : 21

Tone : Neutral

Position : Bottom

Section : Features

With the poor water quality denying access to drink­ing water for millions of

people, plans are underway to fix

Jakarta's water woes.

Firdaus Ali and the water regula­tors have plans underway to build a Rp 2.1 trillion (USS225 million) treatment plant and closed water canal adjacent to Jakarta's main raw water source, Jatiluhur Dam.

The 4000L/sec plant would treat the water at the source and be transported to the mainland via a closed pipe to avoid the pollution that is currently plaguing Jakarta's water canals.

All of Jakarta's 13 rivers are in bad condition, Ali says.

Pollutants such as rubbish are dumped in the river, and wastewater and sewage make the rivers largely unusable.

Demand for pipe water is increas­ing, says Ali - especially since the considerable price hike for ground water tax in 2009, but the availabil­ity is not.

"According to my calculations,

only about 45 percent of the popula­tion is currently serviced [with wa­ter access]; even though some stud­ies show 80 percent have access"

It is not possible to widen the canal, he says, as it would involve extensive land reclamation from inhabitants, and would not address the pollution problem.

Ali initiated the plan and the Ja­karta administration is currently conducting a feasibility study due to be completed in June.

The government is set to contrib­ute 35 percent of costs, while the remainder will he covered by the private sector.

Private water companies will be asked to increase their efforts to minimize water losses, which are currently standing at 49 percent, and to reduce non-revenue water (NRW).

Water companies are in trouble as they lack revenue, but this sys­tem should provide more water, and therefore more income, says Ali.

'And companies make more mon­ey, there'll be no need to raise rates

and better service can be offered to the people:' he says.

However, this measure alone is not enough to improve the water systems in Jakarta, he says.

To improve water services, more measures need to be implemented.

The quality of water from the Ciliwung River must be brought to a level fit for raw water.

Ali also envisages a sophisticated sewage system, whereby the waste­water would be treated by reverse osmosis and recycled for use.

Indonesian port companies have thus far been unable to obtain government permits to desalinate seawater, a measure that would bring the price of water from Rp12,500 per cubic meter of PAM Jaya water, to Rp 6,000 for desali­nized water.

All says an improvement of the system would see permits granted on the proviso that 30 percent of the treated water be made available for the less fortunate living in the area.

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