80% of the Balinese economy depends on tourism. “For thrill seekers and chill seekers” is the new tagline for the freshly rebranded holiday destination. They might add “but not for the thirsty”.
60% of Bali’s water is consumed by the tourism industry. As the number of tourists grows, so does demand for water. Most households have wells up to 40 metres deep. Resorts are believed to be drilling deeper wells to 60 metres and more. This in turn forces others to dig deeper or look elsewhere for freshwater. It’s a race to the bottom. Water tables across Bali have dropped up to 50 metres in the past 10 years and 60% per cent of its watersheds are declared dry. As aquifers drain, it raises the possibility of saltwater intrusion. This would render the groundwater useless for domestic purposes.
The Bali Water Protection Program is piloting solutions to ameliorate the risk. The plan is to use more than 100 rainwater gravity-fed well systems strategically located in 13 locations across Bali to recharge aquifers. The technique has also been used in India.
Something has to be done if more visitors are to be accommodated sustainably in Paradise.