The condition of the natural environment has a significant impact on the provision of water supply. Damaged ecosystems, worsened by the rapid increase of population, can affect the quantity and quality of water available for our consumption. However, if we manage it correctly, nature also offers potential solutions to provide everyone with the water we need. Recognizing the importance of nature-based solutions for water challenges, and as part of the World Water Day 2018 celebration, USAID IUWASH PLUS promoted the successful use of infiltration ponds in increasing the productivity and sustainability of local aquifers through a national groundwater recharge workshop held in Jakarta on March 22, 2018.
“This year’s World Water Day theme, ‘Nature for Water’, highlights the need to preserve nature and overcome water scarcity. One nature-based solution is infiltration ponds. Since 2012, the U.S. Government through the USAID Indonesia Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene project, in collaboration with the Coca-Cola Foundation Indonesia, has built 3,334 infiltration ponds in water catchment areas,” stated Matthew Burton, USAID Environment Office Director, in his opening remarks. “With the participation of local governments, water utilities (PDAMs) and communities, the program has shown real results. The water debit of the Senjoyo springs in Patemon village rose 37.5% from 800 to 1,100 liters per second, and of the Jubel springs in Claket village the debit almost quadrupled from 13 to between 50 and 60 liters per second,” he added.
Sharing a similar point of view, Tri Dewi Virgiyanti, Director of Urban, Housing and Settlement of Bappenas, stated that a major national policy relates to water security. “We need to ensure water security and the availability of raw water. Infiltration ponds have been proven to be an effective means to improve the productivity and sustainability of local aquifers and our policies, plans and budgets need to further promote this important approach,” she said in her opening remarks.
The workshop allowed for input from a wide variety of stakeholders. These included representatives from Patemon and Claket village communities, a farmers union (Serikat Paguyuban Petani Qariyah Thayibah or SPPQT), and Salatiga and Mojokerto PDAMs who shared their experiences and the benefits of infiltration pond development. Several cited water conflicts before the installation of the infiltration ponds, included a lack of water for farmers, and neighbors arguing over runoff that would cause localized flooding. With the infiltration ponds, the availability for water has become more consistent, localized flooding has reduced, and related social conflicts have likewise abated.
“People now understand and feel the benefits of infiltration ponds. That is why we revised the village mid-term development plan (RPJMDes) to support the development of more infiltration ponds. Our target is to build 1,000 infiltration ponds,” explained Puji Rahayu, Patemon Village Head, Semarang Regency.
This workshop also provided a platform for reviewing how the national government, especially Bappenas, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and the Ministry of Public Works and Housing could strengthen their support to expand the implementation of infiltration ponds development across Indonesia.
According to Nita Kartika, the Head of Forest Service Development Sub-division, Bappenas, water security is one of the priorities of GOI work plan (Rencana Kerja Pemerintah) for 2019, within which groundwater conservation is a major priority. She added, “One of the 2019 targets for groundwater conservation includes infiltration ponds. This target is further addressed by plans of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. In addition, there is Special Allocation Fund (DAK) for the forestry sector, which includes infiltration ponds. Now, it depends on the proposals from the local governments.”
To better engage media in the WASH sector and, particularly, in understanding the issue of groundwater protection, there was a heavy presence of journalists not only at the workshop, but also during a prior “media visit” to Patemon village in Semarang, Central Java. About 20 journalists participated in the visit to see firsthand an infiltration pond program and interview local community members as well as PDAM representatives.
Budhi Santoso from Antara News, stated that the media has an important role to play in promoting the infiltration pond movement. “We need a national policy to raise this issue. Infiltration ponds and water conservation should become the concern of all parties,” he said.
The workshop participants agreed that an infiltration pond is a simple, inexpensive, and effective technology and that it is necessary to have a concerted effort for its further promotion. “For the success of infiltration ponds, there must be a joint movement and partnership between the community, the media, and the central and regional governments. Hopefully, this workshop held in conjunction with World Water Day can be the first step for groundwater conservation through infiltration ponds,” concluded Louis O’Brien, the USAID IUWASH PLUS Chief of Party closing the workshop.
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