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Water

Did you know Bali is running out of water? What, you say? it rains a lot there!

 

Well, although we had the shortest raining season in a over a decade, and I’m sure some other parts of the world did as well. This problem is not a new one for Bali.

In 2009 it first became apparent that Bali has a water shortage.

In a country like Australia they have regulations where you must put in rainwater tanks where possible, but in Australia a normal house block is about 6-800 sqm, or a lot smaller in dense areas. Land here uses a measurement system of 10mx10m = 1 ARE (no that’s not a typo, its pronounced ARR).

Many young couples wanting to move out of the family properties start with a small house on 1 Are (some actually 95sqm blocks as you must allow for a road drainage at the front), not much space for a rainwater tank there. What do they do? Well, they purchase a big bright orange plastic tank, place it on their on their roof and get it filled, often, water trucks do great business selling a truck of water for 150,000IDR. That’s a lot of money for a young couple just starting out, actually it is a lot of money for most families.

We are lucky, we have a house on 2 Are, we have managed to disguise rainwater tanks in every corner of the property that we can fit but have only managed 10,000 litres in total catchment……so? We’ll we do not have mains water, we live in a residential area of Bali and like many other residential areas there has not been mains water dating back as early as 2009. When the raining season stops for 6 months, this year it looks like 8 months we use buckets for all water use and reuse every drop as many times as possible.

As you get further into the dry season trucks of water are harder to find and in the Kuta area they will charge double as they know they can, sometimes the water is so salty and full of rocks that it does damage to your tank pipes.

Actually the local way of showering, a mandi, has always been a water efficient way to shower, a tub in the corner of a “wet room” stand over a squat (which doubles as the toilet) and a small handheld (brightly couloured) bucket you use to pour the water over yourself, which then flushes your toilet.

So where is all the water going then?

Hmmm, Hotels maybe? 6 Golf Courses?, Water parks? Just a thought.

Solutions?

Dig a well? Well (excuse pun), we personally live on a big dry rock and its 200 metres down to groundwater…..however, in the low lands such as Kuta to Seminyak many hotels have dug wells, many hotels, I repeat many hotels have dug a well….Well, that’s a problem, the ground water is drying up and the salt table is rising.

What about the mountains? Well, if you have been to Ubud and seen the lush green landscapes surrounding this village and the brilliant green rice fields full of water, it’s a green your eyes have such pleasure seeing but it all needs water. Well, those villages do tap in to underground river systems….and well, they are drying up as well. A figure thrown out there in the media this week was that some 300 rivers in Bali are now bone dry (one is behind our house).

So? What can you do about it? Well! sorry couldn’t help it. No seriously, this is a serious issue. Tourists can do their bit to help You aren’t ones to waste your water letting it run down the drain while brushing your teeth. However (see no, more puns), you can still help.

• Have a swimming pool in your hotel? Then make it a very quick shower if you wanted to wash off the chlorine (please note, if the hotel is connected to mains water it is full of chlorine anyway, thank goodness, or it would smell pretty bad due to the number of leaking underground septic tanks here in Bali (built with brick and seepage encouraged).

• Don’t get your towels washed every day at the hotel.

• Don’t run a bath in a villa, unless you want to do it the old fashioned way and everyone uses the water until it’s too dirty to use. 130 litres down the drain when a local family can make that last more than a few days.

The National Statistics Center (BPS) using data provide by Data provided by the Bali Hotel Association (BHA) and Howarth HTL estimate that 5 star hotels use 4000 litres per day per tourist!!! They average water usage for household is 183 litres per day (if they are connected to the mains system). Ubuds water usage is 5000 litres per person per day!

So, if you wish to stay 5 star, yes you saved for years for this holiday, you deserve it, we understand that. However, take 5-10 minutes to research the hotel/villas water usage policy. If they don’t have one, find a hotel that has one.

There are Green Hotels in Bali, just remember village women in some rural areas walk up to 3km every morning to collect a single bucket to share among their family.

 

Yes, a solution is needed here in Bali that is sustainable but until that time we ask that tourists do as much as they possibly can to reduce their water consumption on our precious Island so everyone can enjoy Bali for years to come.

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