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Essay on Drinking Water in Indonesia

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Clean drinking water is the single most important resource for any major city. For Indonesia, a country with a massive population and a shrinking supply of usable water, the need to acquire and promote proper use of drinking water is a major policy concern. This is part one of a sample essay that focuses on the state of water treatment efforts in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. Environmental essays are among the many subjects in which the talented Ultius writers specialize.

Drinking Water in Indonesia 

The city of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, faces an important issue dealing with the availability of potable water. Namely, Jakarta has to deal with a supply issue with regards to its clean drinkable water for its population. The city has a shrinking supply of usable water and, in many cases the water available is far too polluted to be safely utilized by the population at large. As food and water security is paramount to society, it is crucial that this issue be rectified.

Private operation of water supply services

Since February of 1998 the water supply services for the city have been privately operated after two companies:

  1. Thames PAM Jaya (TPJ), which operates in eastern Jakarta
  2. PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (PALYJA), which operates in western Jakarta

These companies signed a twenty-five year contract giving them exclusive rights to operate with the state-owned Jakarta City Water Company (Pam Jaya). The current state of water treatment for the city, however, needs to be amplified so that the general population can have fresh, usable water readily available to them. Many people in Jakarta have to struggle on a daily basis to provide for either their families or themselves in order to have access to a usable water supply. This has led to people suffering from diseases that could have been prevented. The companies that supply water to Jakarta, as well as the Indonesian government, must take further action in order to provide the citizens of Jakarta with a source of clean, unpolluted water. 

Major Problems for Water Companies

There are some major issues that companies charged with providing water to Jakarta face, some of which include:

Factors such as this have created an atmosphere where many individuals cannot get access to the water needed for both consumption and even basic hygienic needs. One of the major issues that Jakarta faces in the distribution of its current supply of water is:

“many people were unable to get enough clean water due to poor water delivery services, including high water leakage,” (McClatchy Tribune, 2010).  

Other problems faced are:

  • Preventing contamination of the water that is moved through pipes to residents of the city
  • Finding an efficient way to provide sources of water to the more remote areas that do not currently have means of getting their needed supply of water
  • The main supply of raw water is declining

The Citarum River, the governmentally chosen main supplier of raw water, has seen a diminishing amount of usable water due to pollution, and, subsequently, water from other rivers has had to be directed and used to compensate for the declining supply. The water that has been moved in, however, is not much better in quality. According to the president director of Aetra:

“the raw water redirected from the river had high turbidity and contained ammonia, manganese and organic materials,” (Asrianti, 2011).

Mainly, the water providers are facing two large issues:

  • A way in which to provide water to those that do not have access to it
  • To ensure that the water that is provided is treated to a level where disease will not spread through its consumption

Causes of water shortage

There are many contributing factors to water supply issues from climate changes to pollution. One of the major causes of the shortage of raw water that faces the city of Jakarta comes in the form of its high rate of development and urbanization. As more and more people take up residency within the city raising its population, the demands for a usable source of fresh, clean water increases as well. To combat the shrinking supply of available ground water, the government has permitted companies to dig and tap into the supply of underground water. However, issues have arisen from this as well that have:

“depleted the aquifers dues to excessive groundwater abstraction/withdrawal,” (Soentoro, 2011).  

Because the supply of water is diminishing for the general population, steps have been taken to collect any means of water that could be used by the citizens of Jakarta. According to Koos Dekkers of the World Waternet Foundation many people:

“use rainwater for their daily consumption. The water, however is placed in an open reservoir out their house, directly under the sun,” (McClatchy Tribune, 2010).  

This exposes that rainwater to a much higher temperature, about 10 degrees warmer than usual, which allows the growth of bacteria to become super charged. Water in this condition can grow bacteria up to four times quicker than that of water that is kept in a cooler environment (McClatchy Tribune, 2010). While rainwater harvesting can propose a viable solution to lack of clean water, it, too, proposes substantial risk.

Chemical Waste

In addition to the potential bacterial growth found in the water gathered and stored in the outdoor reservoirs, there is an issue with companies dumping chemical waste into the water sources. The Bekasi River, one of the suppliers of raw water to Jakarta, has been the dumping site for septic companies for some time. Apparently the dumping is done at nighttime and the authorities have not apprehended those responsible, or simply are turning the other way to the issue (Faslla, 2011). These issues parallel those faced by the clandestine dumping that occurred in Flint, Michigan which led to the poisoning of a significant portion of the local population. The result of this sort of dumping coupled with that of the industrial and chemical waste that is added by “rogue factories” has left the supply of water suspect for a source of the bacteria E. Coli. However, the government firmly states:

“even if the raw water source is contaminated with bacteria, it will be processed before it is distrusted through the pipe network to family homes,” (Faslla, 2011).  

Downfalls of lack of government intervention

The problem with the lack of government intervention is that water pollution spreads further than just the direct consumption of water as well. Because the water sources of Jakarta are so polluted by human waste, the water that flows out into Jakarta Bay spreading the pollution further. A test of the water quality in the area found:

“high levels of heavy metals-including lead, mercury, and copper,” (Vit, 2012).  

The Jakarta Bay contamination, however, has spread to the wildlife of the area, including the fish, which are the source of income and food for some 7,000 fishermen and those that consume their catch on a daily basis. Again, the government has done little to dissuade the dumping of material into the water supply that causes the high levels of pollution to be present in the first place (Vit, 2012).

Jakarta faces a number of issues in regards to water supply:

  • Pollution
  • Short supply
  • Lack of government standards

There have been many strides taken to provide the general population with sources of clean, safe water including:

1. Foreign aid programs. One such example of this is the Master Meter provided by the Mercy Corps. This program provided 55 families in 2008 with the means to have running water provided to their homes. The program:

“installed a separate tank and ran water lines to household able to pay the $20 start-up fee,” (Voice of America, 2010).  

2. The “RW Siaga Plus+” sponsored by USAID. This program’s aims are:

“to improve water sanitation, and hygiene systems to reduce malnutrition in children under the age of 5,” (US Fed News Service, 2011).  

This project aims to increase the access to clean water supply, and since its start in September 2009, it has seen some 6,029 households have access to clean water supplies (US Fed News Service, 2011). Though the efforts have been made to provide the population with clean water in some areas, the larger problem persists as a whole.

Role of government in the water wars

Currently, Indonesia has over 300 municipal owned water enterprises (PDAMs) comprised of:

  • 8 large-scale PDAMs (50,000 plus house connections)
  • 77 medium-scale PDAMs (between 10,000 to 50,000 house connections)

Additionally, there is a balance that is made up of small-scale PDAMs that serve fewer than ten thousand house connections. With so many suppliers of water, the government needs to be at the front of the fight to provide clean water to the inhabitants of the city. However, almost the exact opposite appears to be true. The system that is currently in place seems to have no real means of accountability for polluting the city’s water supply or other forms of marine pollution threatening the nation. In order to help Jakarta have the means to provide its citizens with clean, usable water, the government must increase its presence in ensuring that waste is not put into the water supply that will contaminate it and potentially harm its citizens. This means that the government will have to stand up to the companies that have used the rivers around Jakarta as a means of disposal of the chemical and biological waste that they produce. The dumping that occurs is illegal, so the government needs to enforce stricter policies that discourage and penalize the companies that continue to dump their waste into water supplies.

Water regulation and law reform 

As the urbanization and development of Jakarta continues, it is becoming necessary to reform many regulations that effect the groundwater abstraction. According to Edy Anto Soentoro:

“regulations on land-use planning, groundwater abstraction and water pollution control should be applied strictly and aimed to maintain raw water sources,” (Soentoro, 2011).  

By regulating the way in which people can utilize the land and take water from the groundwater supply, the overall supply of usable raw water will be controlled and kept from declining too sharply. This will additionally protect some of the current groundwater from being utilized for means that could result in its contamination. As noted by Soentoro, they must:

“improve coordination among the institutions related to raw water supply development and to carry out a transparent decision-making process,” (Soentoro, 2011).

As this is one of the important steps that is needed to ensure the propagation of clean water for future generations, this regulation rests with the government of the area. 

Local efforts and temporary fixes

Innovative ways to provide usable water should also be continually explored by the people of the area. The collection of rainwater is not a bad idea, but the storing of the collected water needs to be improved. Instead of keeping the water in an open reservoir that leaves it susceptible to accelerated bacterial growth for known health risks like E. coli and Typhus which causes Typhoid fever, a system should be developed where the collected water is kept in a cooler environment before the people use it. Obviously, this should only be a temporary means of providing water to the community unless a treatment system is put into place for the rainwater collected. However, the idea of providing suitable means for the storage and transportation of water is not limited to just the rainwater collection process. The pipelines and other means of water storage and transportation need to be reformed in the Jakarta system.  According to one source:

“around 50 percent of the total water that is produced becomes non-revenue for the system,” (Voice of America, 2010).  

That is unacceptable, especially in an area that is already struggling to provide all of its citizens with a supply of fresh water.


Water supply is an issue affecting the world over. It has long been a health related issue throughout the continent of Africa. The city of Jakarta faces many problems, one of its greatest is the litany of such water problems. The city has developed too quickly and, as a result, it has not been able to keep up with the increased demands for water by its citizens. Additionally, with the increase in demands of water consumption, the city is finding that its water supplies are shrinking in usable output. The years of pollution and groundwater abstraction have left Jakarta with a very limited amount of usable water with which to provide its citizens. Lack of government intervention and inefficient means of water transportation have also been major issues. Because of this, bacteria levels in water have risen to unsafe values while the community is forced to utilize this water for its daily use.

Necessary changes

In order to combat these issues, Jakarta needs to make some fundamental changes to the way it operates:

  1. The government needs to be a larger presence in enforcing stricter policies on the dumping of chemical waste into the water supply.
  2. The city of Jakarta needs to overhaul and reform its means of transportation and storage of the current usable water.
  3. The city needs to continue to explore new means for obtaining and purifying the water that is currently available to it.  

By taking these suggestions to heart, Jakarta will be able to take the necessary steps to being able to provide everyone with one of the necessities of life.           


Antara. (2012, July 05). Indonesia's clean drinking water crisis worst in Southeast Asia. Jakarta Globe. Retrieved from http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/health/indonesias-clean-drinking-water-crisis-worst-in-southeast-asia-expert/528758

Asrianti, T. (2011, Sept 07). Jakarta's raw water supply is declining. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/09/07/jakarta’s-raw-water-supply-declining.html

Clean water a problem in Indonesia. (2010, Dec 20). McClatchy- Tribune Business News. Retrieved from http://libproxy.usc.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/82181306 2?accountid=14749

Faslla , D. (2011, Sept 30). Jakarta water is safe to drink: fauzi. Jakarta Globe. Retrieved from http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/jakarta-water-is-safe-to-drink-fauzi/468858

Jakarta struggles to provide clean water to all. (2010, Aug 03). Voice of America. Retrieved from http://www.voanews.com/content/jakarta-struggles-to-provide-clean-water-to-all-99487644/166124.html

Soentoro, E. (2011). Integrated decision-making for urban raw water supply in developing countries. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Colorado State University). Retrieved from http://libproxy.usc.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/87070100 0?accountid=14749

Usaid assistant administrator for Asia visits integrated water project in Cengkareng, West Jakarta (2011, Sept 14). US Fed News Service. Retrieved from http://libproxy.usc.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/88936855 3?accountid=14749 

Vit, J. (2012, Sept 02). A community struggles with Jakarta's water quality. Jakarta Globe. Retrieved from http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/a-community-struggles-with-jakartas-water-quality/541714




Ultius, Inc. "Essay on Drinking Water in Indonesia." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 06 Sep. 2013. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/essay-on-drinking-water-in-indonesia.html

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Ultius, Inc. (2013, September 06). Essay on Drinking Water in Indonesia. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/essay-on-drinking-water-in-indonesia.html

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Ultius, Inc. "Essay on Drinking Water in Indonesia." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. September 06, 2013 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/essay-on-drinking-water-in-indonesia.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "Essay on Drinking Water in Indonesia." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. September 06, 2013 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/essay-on-drinking-water-in-indonesia.html.

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