Rapid tourism development fueled Bali’s alarming water crisis, expert says

A woman looks over the jungle from a pool in Bali. Photo: Pixabay
A woman looks over the jungle from a pool in Bali. Photo: Pixabay

If you didn’t take at least one photo in an infinity pool while you were in Bali, did you even really go here? 

Over the years, a dip in spectacular infinity pools with views of the ocean, jungles and even volcano have featured in many travelers’ account of their trips to the Island of the Gods. However, on the other side of that hyped trend is an alarming water crisis fueled by rapid tourism development on the island. 

“Tourism has sped up [the extent of drought] that is happening right now, which we could have expected to happen in maybe 20 or 30 years, but it’s happening now,” Dewie Anggraini, a fundraiser and communication officer with IDEP Foundation, told German publication Deutsche Welle on Monday

IDEP, an Indonesian NGO focused on sustainable development, says that Bali is facing diminishing freshwater tables, with numerous wells either running dry or with foul water, particularly in the southern part of the island. 

The organization also highlights the urgency of addressing salt water intrusion into freshwater aquifers, which has resulted from excessive withdrawal of freshwater compared to its replenishment rates; a situation that could potentially be non-reversible.

“Many freshwater exploitation happens in areas where there are many hotels and villas, which are usually used for tourism purposes,” Dewie said.

According to IDEP, 65 percent of Bali’s water is used for tourism. In addition, the lack of rain this year has further exacerbated drought in Bali. 

In early November, Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) warned the potential of drought in Bali, as the island continues to experience dry weather. 

Rain was expected to start pouring some time in November, which would have already been a late start to the wet season compared to the year before, but it seems like we’re still stuck the dry season for the time being.

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