Indonesia: Land Degradation, Deforestation Leads to Critical Watershed Water Levels

Edy Sujatmiko Jakarta Globe 7 Jan 17;

Jakarta. The Ministry of Public Works and Housing has warned at least 22 regional agriculture watersheds have dropped to critical level, prompting concerns it has caused flooding.

The watersheds, used to conserve water for irrigation purposes, are facing a critical shortage amid a spotty rainy season and environmental factors.

“Currently, 22 watersheds across the country are in critical condition, resulting in flash floods in a variety of areas,” Public Works Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said, as reported by state news agency Antara on Friday (06/01).

Adang Saf Ahman, irrigation director at the ministry, said the watersheds are spread over 131 river basins across the archipelago.

He said the dry season had led to a decrease in water levels, but the expected rainy season influx had not occurred, causing fluctuations.

The minister attributed flash flooding in West Nusa Tanggara and across Java as being caused by the watersheds and poor management.

"The cause is conversion of forest land into areas of industry and agriculture, such as farmer planting in the water catchment area," Basuki said.

He urged residents to conserve water catchment areas by reforestation and a slowing down of land conversion.

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