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Surabaya River `should not be drinking water source'

Achmad Faizal and Agnes S. Jayakarna, THE JAKARTA POST, SURABAYA | Fri, 10/16/2009 2:52 PM

The East Java administration has been told to review the use of the Surabaya River as the main tap water source for the city due to its high pollution levels. Prigi Arisandi, director of Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (Ecoton), said here Thursday the East Java governor should take concrete action to deal with the issue. The Surabaya River is heavily polluted, he said. "So, it is not acceptable if water from the Surabaya River is used as a drinking water source. "If the administration wants to keep it as a tap water or drinking water source, it needs to take the necessary steps to stop the pollution," Prigi said. The Surabaya River is a major water source for residents in Surabaya and its surrounding area, including Gresik and Sidoarjo. Around 65 percent of the three million people in the city use tap water from the river. Daru Setyo Rini, a senior analyst with Ecoton, said, based on a recent survey by his organization, he had found significant degradation in the quality of the river water. The indicators, he said, included the disappearance of some fish species, like Keting (Arius caelatus), Papar (Notopterus chitala H.B) and Jendil (Family Ariidae). "They are sensitive types of fish, which will die or move when their ecosystem is polluted," said Daru.

Prigi said to stop pollution in the river, the East Java administration should strictly enforce the law against companies operating along the riverbanks and dumping their waste into the river. Only a few companies have ever been caught and found guilty of dumping waste, but they only received minimal fines and were ordered to upgrade their waste processing facilities. In 2007, Ecoton sued the East Java administration over the polluted Surabaya River. The Surabaya District Court ordered the administration to review the use of the river as a drinking water source. However, the court order has so far not been heeded. East Java Governor Soekarwo said Thursday waste that had thus far polluted the river could be handled by the sanitation facilities set up along the riverbanks. "It's better to use a functional approach by asking every household and industry along the riverbanks to improve their sanitation facilities and bring their waste management installations into effect," he said, pledging that his administration would continue to measure pollution levels in the river. The governor also planned to supply springwater from the Umbulan spring in Pasuruan to fulfill the demand for clean water from Surabaya and its greater area. However, the plan to pipe water from the spring at a rate of 4,000 liters per second will cost Rp 2.4 trillion (US$256 million) due to its distant location. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/10/16/surabaya-river-should-not-be-drinking-watersource039.html