Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Crop failure looms as rivers run dry in Tangerang, Bogor

Source: The Jakarta Post

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Tangerang/Bogor

With no relief in sight, the reoccurring problem of drought in the dry season is again threatening water supplies and farmers crops in Greater Jakarta, local officials said.

Farmers in Tangerang and Bogor were facing crop failure as river levels in the area dropped, they said. The rivers are used to irrigate thousands of hectares of farmland.

Many tap water customers in the capital, meanwhile, are likely to face further supply shortages, as the rivers also supply raw water to water companies.

The Tangerang Water Resources Management Agency (BPSDA) coordinator said some 30,000 hectares of farmland in the area could be ruined, because of a shortage of water from the Cisadane and Cidurian rivers.

Suparno, told The Jakarta Post the Cisadane river supplied water to 13,000 hectares of paddy fields and 8,752 hectares of vegetable fields, while the Cidurian watered 12,000 hectares of paddy fields.

Water flow in the Cisadane was usually measured at between 42,000 and 50,000 liters per second (l/s) in the wet season, while in the Cidurian, it was normally between 18,000 and 25,000 l/s, he said.

"But since Aug. 10, the flow had drastically dropped to 7,900 l/s at Cisadane and 4,000 l/s at Cidurian," he said.

Suparno said water flows below the 4,000 l/s mark would mean disturbances in water supplies for industrial firms and tap water companies.

The water table at the Cisadane River, meanwhile, had reduced from 12.15 meters to 10.45 meters, and from 7.45 meters to 5.15 at the Cidurian River.

"The condition is due to a lack of water supply from the rivers' upstream in Bogor," he said.

If conditions in the two rivers persisted, the administration would have to resort to rationing water to farmlands to ensure all districts received equal water supplies, Suparno said.

Since early August, the water flow from the Katulampa floodgate in Bogor has dropped to 1,800 l/s, from the 5,000 to 8,000 l/s during the rainy season. The Kali Baru irrigation channel gets its water supply from Katulampa.

Katulampa floodgate officer Andi Sudirman told the Post that with such levels, farmers in the Cibinong and Cimanggis area would likely face water shortages.

"Last week, some 15 farmers came all the way from Cibinong to check the floodgate's water flow, because their paddy fields had begun to dry up," Andi said. She predicted the drought would likely drag on until September.

In Jakarta, officials of tap water companies PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja) and PT Thames PAM Jaya (TPJ) said their main raw water supply from the Kali Malang river had decreased lately, affecting their ability to produce and distribute a sufficient supply of water to their customers.

Palyja needs 5,400 l/s for its plant in Pejompongan, while TPJ needs 4,400 l/s for its plant in Pulo Gadung and 5,300 l/s for its Buaran plant. The river's flow has decreased to around 4,000 to 5,000 l/s lately.

Water companies said they had prepared emergency container trucks to service customers' daily water needs during any shortage.

The delivery service, however, would be prioritized for hospitals, and responses to requests would be coordinated to prevent any misuse of the resource, they said.