Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Groundwater quality is getting no better, with a 2006 survey released Thursday by the Jakarta Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) revealing that 80 percent of the 75 wells across the capital are polluted.
"The quality of water at depths between 10 and 20 meters is steadily worsening. It is no longer fit for human consumption," Daniel Abbas, the head of the agency's environmental damage control unit, told The Jakarta Post.
The survey results, to be published next month, show that the concentrations of E-coli and other bacteria in Jakarta's groundwater exceed the safe level.
The survey measures the parameters of temperature, salinity, detergent content, iron, manganese, hydrogen sulfide and the biological substances of bacteria and viruses.
A high manganese content, for example, alters the color of water, causing black spots to appear on laundry.
Daniel said the high E-coli concentration was likely caused by the poor sewage system in the city as the bulk of wastewater was channeled into septic tanks located not far from wells.
"If they aren't properly maintained, raw sewage seeps out of septic tanks and into the groundwater," Daniel said.
Ground pollution and the distribution of clean water have long been problems in the city.
The city-owned water operator, PT PAM Jaya, is reliant on raw water from other provinces and can only deliver tap water to half of the city's homes.
Hundreds of tap water customers have been experiencing disruptions to supply since last week as the water level at Jatiluhur dam continues to fall.
The administration has said the shortages of raw water supplies could reduce groundwater reserves as industrial players that rely on tap water pump more groundwater.
"The quality of the groundwater extracted by industries is far higher than household groundwater. There are also concerns that as industries pump more water, shallower wells will run dry," Daniel said.
Household wells are between 10 and 40 meters deep, while industrial wells are between 100 and 300 meters deep.
The administration has not placed restrictions on the amount of water a household can pump.
The Jakarta Mining Agency only allows private companies to extract less than 100 cubic meters per day.
However, despite the pollution and the inevitable impact of massive development, the administration continues to blame the poor quality of the city's water on its growing population.
Jakarta is home to an estimated 10 million people, but that figure swells to 12 million during the day.
Daniel said the public needed to act now to increase groundwater supply.
"It is the responsibility of all Jakartans to set up communal wastewater treatment plants and build water catchment facilities."
A number of companies operating in the country have been promoting programs to conserve water supply. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coca-Cola Foundation Indonesia, for example, have been running a series of clean water programs in Bekasi, West Java, aimed at educating local communities on how to treat water and conserve water sources in their respective neighborhoods.
The project, called Cinta Air (Love the Water), is also aimed at ensuring the provision of clean water supply and sanitation services to more than 25,000 Bekasi residents.