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New hotels blamed for dwindling water supply in Yogyakarta

Publication Date : 07-08-2014


The opening of dozens of new hotels in the city of Yogyakarta has reportedly caused environmental hazards to the area's residents.

Residents of Miliran, Yogyakarta who are living near the Fave Hotel on Jl. Kusumanegara, for example, have blamed the hotel’s well-water system for depleting underground water supplies, leaving their wells dry for the first time in memory.

“For 37 years our wells never dried out. But [they did] after the hotel was established about two years ago,” Dodok Jogja of Miliran said on Wednesday after completing an art performance in front of the hotel to protest the current situation.

He said wealthier residents had opted to lengthen their pipes to access deeper deposits of groundwater, but the less-advantaged found it difficult to finance such a solution.

Dodok said he had filed a complaint with the hotel but never received a response.

“We demand the municipal administration address this matter because there are many new hotels [being] established in Yogyakarta,” he said.

Another Miliran resident, Tusiyo, told a similar story, saying that his 10-meter well had dried out and that he had been forced to lengthen his pipes to access deeper water.

Fave Hotel manager Yosi Arivianto said the hotel had installed an 80-metre-deep well to satisfy its water needs and had obtained the appropriate license from the city administration.

“We are paying taxes for using a deep underground well,” Yosi said, adding that he was willing to find solutions for locals whose wells were drying out.

Head of the city’s environment agency, Irvan Susilo, said that the hotel’s underground well had been tested in 2012 and it was found that surrounding wells belonging to locals would be unaffected.

“If people’s wells are really drying out, there is a possibility that hotel pipes that are located at the same depth as the shallower wells nearby may have leaks and they [may be] absorbing water,” Irvan said.

He added that if in good condition, the hotel pipes would not affect the water supplies feeding the shallower wells because of waterproofing measures that had been implemented.

Separately, the agency’s monitoring and control subdivision head, Very Tri Jatmiko, said it was necessary to investigate the possibility that additional large-scale underground water pumping in the region might be responsible. “First we will have to check the hotel’s pipes for possible leaks,” Very said.

Dozens of new hotels have been built over the last three years in Yogyakarta, prompting cries from environmental activists to tighten licensing procedures over fears of local residents’ wells drying out.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Yogyakarta branch director Halik Sandera said that the drying out of resident wells was because shallow groundwater sunk deeper when the water at shallower depths began to be exploited.

“Environmental impact analysis documents reveal that the layers separating shallow and deep well systems in Sleman regency and Yogyakarta city are not 100 percent waterproof,” Halik said.

He added that the proliferation in hotel construction in the city could become a much larger problem as there were currently 106 proposals for new hotel establishments, 37 of which had already been approved.


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