Tuesday, March 29, 2005

People see newfound hope as Germany provides water

Source: The Jakarta Post

SPRING OF HOPE: German Minister of Research and Education Edelgard Bulmahn visits a dam project, which is sourcing water in an underground river, aimed at solving the water crisis in Gunung Kidul regency, Yogyakarta. The small dam is slated to be completed next month. (JP/Slamet Susanto)

Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

Drought, which often leads to a water crisis, has been an annual problem for about 132,000 residents in Gunung Kidul regency, Yogyakarta.

In the beginning of the dry season, it is common to see people forming a long queue at lakes in the regency. When the dry season gets worse, people get desperate and sell their valuables such as cows, goats or trees to purchase water.

As many people sell their valuables, especially cattle, to buy water during the peak of the dry season, local residents often jokingly say "drinking cows" or "drinking goats" when they drink the water.

Fortunately, Gunung Kidul residents now see light at the end of the tunnel. Government workers have been digging for several months on a spot of land in Bribin area, Gunung Kidul, where an underground river is located and have now reached the surface of an underground river, some 100 meters below the surface.

After the successful digging project, the workers have just started to build an underground dam to store water from the river. The small dam is slated to be completed next month.

The Rp 6 billion (US$666,666) dam will be able to accommodate 210 liters of water per second. The water debit in the river reaches 2,000 liters per second in the dry season and 4,000 liters per second in the rainy season. The dam is expected to be able to meet the water needs of the 132,625 people living in Gunung Kidul regency.

The head of the Settlement and Regional Infrastructure Office at the Yogyakarta administration, Tri Harjun Ismail, said that the workers had dug 100 meters deep and 2.4 meters wide. The digging started in July last year and was completed recently.

After completing the digging project, the workers will later build an underground dam, which will be completed in April this year.

"Then, the next step is to set up an electricity turbine, that can bring the water up to the surface," said Harjun, adding that the overall project will be completed in the next few months.

The project is a joint effort between the Indonesian government, the German government and various universities in the country. The dam itself will cost the state Rp 6 billion, while the digging project cost Rp 70 billion.

The German Minister of Research and Education, Edelgard Bulmahn, visited the area last week to observe the project. He said that what the Indonesian government had done in Bribin could be a model for similar projects in other places in the country.