Farmers Association (not gov’t) seems to have solved Jakarta’s stinky canal problem with ‘deodorant’ powder

The black nylon netting over the Sentiong Canal
The black nylon netting over the Sentiong Canal

One of the biggest stories in Jakarta last week was the major stink surrounding the fetid Sentiong Canal, a waterway that is located right by Wisma Atlet, the massive dormitory complex in which visiting athletes competing at next month’s Asian Games will be housed. After Governor Anies Baswedan was heavily criticized for trying to “sweep the problem under the rug” by covering the canal with a giant black nylon curtain, officials from the central government stepped in to fix the problem (and threw some shade at Anies).

But people are saying that the Sentiong (often referred to as Kali Item, or the Black Canal) is actually a lot less stinky at the moment. That seems to be due, not to the efforts of Anies or even the central government’s Public Works and Public Housing Ministry (PUPR), but to an organization called the Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI)

The Jakarta chapter of HKTI, which is not affiliated with the government, donated 500 kilograms of DeoGone, a powder described as a “waste deodorizing product” and sprinkled it throughout the Sentiong on Sunday morning.

You’re probably imagining, like we did, that it’s be some kind of horrible chemical concoction filled with bleach, but it turns out to be an organic substance made out of lactic acid microba that the manufacturer claims to be environmentally friendly to animals and humans. An expert from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said it should be a safe and effective solution to Kali Item’s odor problem.

LIPI Apresiasi Penggunaan DeoGone untuk Hilangkan Bau Kali ItemJakarta – Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI)…

Posted by Ilmu Pengetahuan Dunia on Sunday, July 29, 2018

“I read the news about the use of DeoGone, which is derived from fungus. I think (the use of DeoGone) is good, because it uses a biological approach in conjunction with microbes developed by by the Kagama DKI (Jakarta Alumni of Gajah Mada University),” LIPI Limnology expert Professor Sri Haryani told Detik on Sunday.

Indeed, the DeoGone seems to have done the trick, with several locals interviewed by the media today saying that the smell had been drastically reduced after the DeoGone was spread throughout the canal Sunday morning.

“It is not just diminished, but it has disappeared, There is no smell now, nothing at all,” said Sudirman, a resident of the area interviewed on the banks of the Sentiong by Kompas today.

While LIPI’s Professor Sri said that the DeoGone was safe and effective at neutralizing the Sentiong’s smell, it was not a solution to the waste that continued to pour into the canal from further up-river, especially the industrial runoff from some businesses including tofu and tempe producers (in fact, DeoGone was first developed by the owner of an East Jakarta soy milk factory that wanted to neutralize the smell of his waste).

The Jakarta Provincial Government’s curtaining off of the Sentiong was becoming a major embarrassment in terms of the capital’s preparations (or lack thereof) for next month’s Asian Games — which start on August 18 — leading to PUPR announcing that it would take over the cleaning of Kali Item late last week.

“Kali Item is under the Jakarta Provincial Government’s jurisdiction, but we are taking over because there is no progress. There is certainly a legal basis for the takeover because Jakarta is the capital city so there are special rules regarding its management,” PUPR official Firdaus Ali told Metro TV on Friday.

Seemingly unable to help himself, Firdaus also tossed in some shade aimed at Governor Anies’ administration for their odd temporary “fix” of the canal.

“I think this (curtaining off the canal) is so magical. I have been to numerous countries in five continents to study water management, and this is the first time I’ve seen anything like it,” he said.

According to a press release from PUPR, the ministry is working with the Jakarta Public Works Agency (so the Jakarta Provincial Government hasn’t been fully absolved of all responsibility over the cleaning of the canal) to pump the fetid waters of Kali Item away towards Sunter Canal. It remains to be seen whether that, in combination with the DeoGone, will be able to keep all of the nasty sight and smells of the Sentiong away during the Asian Games, or whether the Jakarta administration’s infamous mesh covering will be removed or not.

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