Updated: Jan 25
Questions about the safeness of Bali tap water are often discussed by the community and tourists. As stated by the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), several large countries such as Australia, the United States, Canada, and various countries in Europe already have eligible and safe water for consumption. As for Asia, there are only a few countries with safe water which includes Brunei, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, which means Bali (as part of Indonesia), are not included in the list. What makes Bali water not safe to drink? Before we analyse the details, take a look at the water distribution system in Indonesia as follows:
The Water Distribution System in Indonesia
The Indonesian government meets the water needs of the public society through a local company called PDAM (Perusahaan Daerah Air Minum) or a regional drinking water company that distributes the clean water through pipes to the faucet/tap in most households. This company is widely spread throughout Indonesia with the primary objective of providing public benefits in the form of quality water resources to fulfil the community's needs. However, apart from PDAM, water distribution is also carried out by several private companies such as PT. Aetra. Although there are private parties, the government ensures that their involvement is limited to managing water resources. The Indonesian government claims that water is a public resource, so there will be no private ownership of water sources in Indonesia.
When we talk about the water sources, PDAMs and private companies acquire their water from various raw materials such as rivers and reservoirs, and it will be differ from one region compared to others. Therefore, the characteristics of the water distributed in various PDAMs can be different. As is the case with PDAM water quality in big cities, which tend to be more polluted than in rural areas. Sources of raw water used in several PDAMs in urban areas come from rivers, most of which have been polluted by domestic and industrial waste. It is evidenced by the discovery of heavy metals in one of the PDAMs located in South Kalimantan.
As a public company, PDAM strives to distribute proper and safe water for the community. The Indonesian Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing states that PDAM produced safe water for direct consumption (based on the test on their installation/reservoir). The company has strict standards for processing the water to be distributed to the community. However, water quality decreases after it is distributed to the community. Data from the Ministry of Health Indonesia shows that water accessibility in Indonesia reaches 93%, but access to safe water for consumption only comes to an average of 11.9% (15.3% in urban areas and 8.3% in rural areas). Then what are the factors that prevent people from getting decent and safe water to drink in Indonesia?
Factors that Contribute to Unsafe Drinking Water in Bali, Indonesia
Raw Materials used for Water Pipes
PDAM pipe leakage rate reached 33.16%, caused by inadequate infrastructure resulting in less-than-optimal service of safe water to the community. Pipe leakage not only harms the PDAM with the high rate of water loss but also increases the possibility of water contamination by bacteria due to exposure to pollution that contaminates water.
According to Habibi (2017) research, several PDAM has used ACP (Asbestos Cement Pipe) pipes with low quality and a high potential for leakage. On the other hand, this type of ACP contains asbestos which is harmful to our body as it may cause cancer. One of the pipe materials that can replace the current pipe is the HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) pipe with safe and durable materials to support the water distribution system in Indonesia.
Lack of Monitoring and Maintenance
Another factor is the lack of maintenance during the distribution. The PDAM uses a chemical filtration system by adding chlorine and chlorine substances to purify the water. However, the pipe leaks during the distribution process can contaminate the water. Therefore, a chlorine monitoring mechanism is needed to ensure the water that reaches the household still contains the chemical substance which can kill various bacteria such as coliform. In addition, the lack of maintenance on the water pipes cleanliness by the PDAM is also one of the causes of water contamination in the distribution process. The growth of various bacteria along the waterways makes the water unsafe for consumption.
Solution for Safe Drinking Water in Bali
Various health experts advise Indonesian communities to boil tap water first before consuming it. The boiling process aims to kill bacteria and parasites contained in the water. The water should be boiled at 70 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes or at 100 degrees Celsius for 5 minutes. Minor negligence in boiling water can leave bacteria that can cause various diseases. Apart from boiling, most Indonesian people consume bottled drinking water. At a glance, this solution can become an efficient and safe water option, but in the long term, it can have a destructive impact on the environment by the increased use of plastic. Some gallon packages also contain BPA (bisphenol-A), contaminating the water and are harmful for toddler.
Numerous technologies have begun to develop in helping the Indonesian community to meet their needs for safe drinking water, one of which is water filter technology. This technology allows communities to consume water directly from tap water with a filtering process. One of the water filters recommended by various health organisations is a ceramic water filter from Terra Water Indonesia. This filter uses clay as the main raw material with carbon and colloidal silver content, creating a microscopic surface to trap various bacteria and parasites in the water. Laboratory test results show that the water filtered Terra filter is free from bacteria, viruses and parasites while also removing chemicals and other toxins. On the other hand, the Terra filter uses locally sourced clay that has been used by many traditional cultures, including Indonesia. This filter is also an efficient solution since it does not require a battery or power source to operate. Terra filter provides a physical filtration system as an additional chemical purification carried out by the PDAM so that the community can use tap water for drinking needs. You can enjoy tap water in Bali safely using this filter.
Prime Drinking Water Zone
For those of you who plan to visit Bali or other destinations in Indonesia, the government is currently developing the ZAMP (Zona Air Minum Prima) or Prime Drinking Water Zones programs. It is a particular zone or area designed as a service area with ready-to-drink water standards. In 2019, there were total of eight PDAMs that were included as prime drinking water zones, including PDAM Bogor Regency, PDAM Bogor City, PDAM Tangerang City, PDAM Malang, PDAM Tirtanadi Medan, PDAM Intan Banjar, PDAM Padang Panjang and PDAM Buleleng.
The coverage of ZAMP is also quite extensive, such as PDAM Malang, which distributes water to 159,765 households. With this data, it can be concluded that only in Bali, only one PDAM (PDAM Buleleng) provides ready-to-drink tap water. Therefore, if you visit Bali, we recommend you to not drink water directly from the tap since it is not safe to drink, unless it is part of the prime drinking water zone. But don't worry, as an alternative, you can get yourself a filter from Terra Water Indonesia or you can also find Terra filters in some of our partners such as Kinship Studio (co-working space), Alive Whole Foods and Bali Direct. Terra filter also comes with the 30 day trial so you can test out the benefits of the filter before you purchase one.