Although the city government has identified engineering and regulatory solutions, solving the groundwater extraction problem may be easier said than done.
“People have been digging wells and extracting groundwater for generations in Indonesia. It is hard to change this behaviour. It is hard to make them understand the consequences of their actions because (land subsidence) happens gradually over the course of many years,” Nila Ardhianie, the director of Amrta Institute for Water Literacy told CNA.
To make things worse, only 900,000 homes, offices and factories have access to municipal water, according to data from the city’s piped water distribution company PAM Jaya. The rest of Jakarta’s 11 million population had no choice but to rely on groundwater.
According to the Indonesian statistics agency, Jakarta has 2.4 million landed homes, more than 200,000 apartment units, 130 shopping malls and thousands of office buildings in 2020.
On average, a Jakarta household is estimated to spend between 200,000 rupiah (US$13.38) and 500,000 rupiah per month on piped water.
SURFACE WATER SAFETY IS A PROBLEM
Ironically, Jakarta is actually surrounded by bodies of water. There are 13 rivers which cut through the city, discharging water into the Java Sea on the northern coast of Jakarta. The city is also home to 117 flood retention ponds and basins.
However, these bodies of water are heavily polluted by industrial and domestic waste. This makes the water unsafe for consumption.
Nirwono Joga, an urban planning expert from Jakarta’s Trisakti University said: “The fact that Jakarta is flooded every year, means Jakarta has too much water at certain times. However, our water management system is bad.”