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Will Bali run out of water this decade?

Discovering Bali's freshwater problem


The short answer is yes. It is predicted that Bali will run out of water by 2025. The Bali water crisis has already begun, but why? And can we stop it? Read on to find out more.


Bali, Indonesia's most popular tourist destination is an island with a population of 4.380 million. Before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, Bali recorded a staggering number of tourists, 26 million to be exact. tourists to have visited the island. Thus, Bali’s development is growing very fast in order to keep up with the tourism industry.


Currently, tourism has become the backbone of the Balinese economy, comprising 40% of the total Bali's GDP. Unfortunately, this trend of rapid development has not touched one of the most vital resources: Water. Bali’s tourism industry requires enormous water resources. Daily water consumption per tourist is estimated to be between 2000-4000 liters per day.


Bali's tourist brochures showcase lush green valleys and rice fields, but the Indonesian island is suffering from a prolonged drought [Ian Neubauer/Al Jazeera]


For many years now, unable to keep up with the demands of its water-intensive tourism the freshwater reserves in Bali are shrinking. Despite a desperate need for a paradigm shift in Bali's approach to tourism, there have not been any major programs planned by the Government to restore Bali's water resources.


Groundwater usage monitoring for agriculture, household, and the tourism industry (hotels, villas, restaurants) is weak even though there are ways we could be regulating the use of this precious resource and ensuring its availability for generations to come. How can you help? Being informed is the first step.


Why is Bali going to run out of fresh water?

  • 65% of Bali water is used for servicing tourism needs. In 2018 Bali's population was 4.2 million & the island hosted 15.9 million domestic & international visitors

  • There is a 13.6% deficit because Bali's water demand is 5.454 million m3/year while the available supply is 4.710 million m3/year

How much freshwater has already been lost in Bali?

  • Over 60% of the Bali watersheds have been declared dry. Lake Buyan - Bali's largest freshwater reserve - surface level has dropped 3.5m in 3 years & 5m since 2012

  • The intrusion of Seawater has occurred in 36 areas around Bali island

  • Water in 8 districts in Bali does not meet the quality standards


What does Bali look like without water?

Land terraced to grow corn in eastern Bali has turned brown amid a prolonged drought and water shortages [Ian Neubauer/Al Jazeera]


Bali locals are living poorly due to the drought. Without their natural resources, the amount of water that they have now can’t even cater to daily routines such as cooking and cleaning.


Their luxurious iconic green rice paddy fields have now paled in color. Seraya Timor on Bali’s east coast is one of the dozens of villages already suffering.


Stenciled by stone terraces built to grow corn, the hills here are so dusty and dry it feels more like a desert island than a tropical one. But it is not water for agriculture that is the residents’ most immediate problem.


Most do not even have access to enough clean water to drink, bathe and cook.


Can Bali be saved from this freshwater crisis?

Resource: https://baliwaterprotection.net/


We have seen the impact of water shortages firsthand in the area where we carry out our social projects. In Songan, people have no choice but to use less than 30 liters a day. We're providing water filters because the water they rely on is generally low quality and should be filtered. As a Bali-based social enterprise, Terra is aware that we are reliant on the availability of fresh water in Bali. After all, without this essential resource, our water filters would not have the social and environmental impact of serving families who need access to safe water in the same way. Our commitment to this mission is based on meeting with families in a place like Songan, Bali where we are fundraising to support 400 families who do not have access to fresh water, Some of our other projects include working with IDEP Foundation through their Bali Water Protection Program, and Sungai Watch to clean Bali’s waterways of plastic and organic debris in order to maximize their use for irrigation and household needs. We also always jump at any opportunity to do a WASH training (water, sanitation, and hygiene), where we teach kids, communities, and businesses about the importance of these issues.


What can you do to conserve freshwater in Bali?

Water conservation means using water wisely and not contributing to unnecessary waste. This is especially important during drought periods and in areas like Bali where there is a big demand for water. Below are 5 simple things we can start to do at home on our own to save water.


  • Fix leaky faucets. All those wasted drops add up—sometimes to 10-25 gallons a day.

  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and washing the dishes. Shave a minute or two off your shower time. Millions of people doing even the little things make a difference.

  • Upgrade to more water-efficient appliances, including toilets, showerheads, washing machines, refrigerators, and dishwashers.

  • Know the source of your drinking water! It could be from the river, lake, rain, or aquifer (well) that supplies your home. Once you know it, you’ll care about it. Think about your impact when buying water from a big water company who exploits the freshwater resource for profit, and contributes to the microplastic and waste issue with its single-use plastic packaging.

  • Volunteer for a change-making project (contact us so we can point you to a few of our amazing partners)

  • Last but not least, use a sustainable natural drinking water filter like Terra Water in your home that can help conserve water by using (or reusing!) the closest water resources from you, yet very convenient and energy-efficient because it needs no electricity nor fuel. Find out more about Terra Water Filters here.


Water has no substitute, what we can do is to conserve and share it wisely. If each of us learned how to conserve just a little more water, it could add up to a significant impact. Let’s continue to educate ourselves and others about the water issues in your area. Subscribe to our newsletter for more water information!

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