The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Some 40 junior high school students turned out Sunday to do water quality tests on the murky Kalimalang River and were surprised by the results.
"Today the water in the Kalimalang has a DO (dissolved oxygen) level of 4 and a pH (acidity) level of 7. That means it could be processed and boiled to become drinking water," reported Adi, 13, a first-grader at Budi Harapan School.
Sunday's event was sponsored by the Indonesian Water Quality Management Forum (FORKAMI) while Adi's report is part of a month of activities linked to World Water Monitoring Day that are ongoing in Cipinang Melayu, East Jakarta.
The forum's training programs have been providing Cipinang Melayu community units with instruction on water quality and waste management since September.
Selected groups were each given Rp 1 million (around US$110) to initiate their projects.
The results, including biopores and water filtration systems, were shown at the event on Sunday.
"Everyone is excited about the sanitation program. We even put our own money into it," neighborhood unit chief Pangatino said, about a water filtration system his community adopted.
Rosmawati, representative of another community unit, said she and her neighbors were optimistic about a new biopore system.
"We only have two drills to share, but we've made around 20 holes with it over the last month ... so slowly we are reaching the goal of everyone having at least one biopore."
Novalinda from FORKAMI said the enthusiasm from the community made her hopeful.
"It shows that people really do want to keep the environment clean and we just need to give them a good financial head start."
She said the government should partner with NGOs in providing certain types of public services to the public.
"All these people need for clean water is access to available technology such as reservoirs that can be used to filter dirty water," she said, adding that Jakarta's residents would be financially capable of maintaining such systems.
"Just look at the people who are buying pipe water that may be 15 times more expensive than well or filtered water." Why not give them a better option, she asked.
Jakarta's clean water supply is diminishing with 87 percent of the city's shallow ground water contaminated with bacteria and industrial waste, while 78 percent of rivers are also contaminated, according to the latest data provided by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment.
Four-year-old World Water Day, each October, is a global education and outreach event designed to protect water resources. (anw)