Water pollution hampers treatment plants in Indonesia

Bengawan Solo River

Operations of two water treatment plants in Indonesia have been hampered following a liquor waste pollution that flowed into the Bengawan Solo River.

Bayu Tunggul, spokesperson of state-run water company Tirta Wening, said that ciu, a traditional alcoholic beverage from sugar cane and is produced by a factory within the river, caused the pollution. It resulted in fish kills and disrupted the supply of clean water.

“We cannot process the water because the waste is too thick. It has a murky color and smells like alcohol,” Tunggul said.

“We have had to cease operations, which has disrupted the water supply for residents in the area,” he added.

Tunggul said that this was the third time that the river was polluted by such chemical.

In September, Tirta Wening said it was unable to filter water due to a similar incident.

“We don’t want to point fingers. However, there are many alcohol producers as well as small enterprises that produce batik and textiles in the upper course of the river. All their waste flows into the Bengawan Solo River,” Tunggul said.

He added that he had coordinated with the Sukoharjo Environment Agency as the company did not have the authority to handle river pollution matters.

“We can only tell them that we cannot process the water because of alcohol contamination. The environment agency has the authority to handle the matter,” he added.

Tirta Wening is currently in coordination with the Central Java Environmental Agency to solve the contamination issue.

Meantime, the company would take water from the Samin Stream as it still had sufficient supply.

“There is still enough water at the Gajah Mungkur dam. However, as the water is murky, processing it will take time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sukoharjo Pollution Management and Environmental Damage Agency said that the liquor waste originated from the Samin Stream and flowed into the Bengawan river.

“Of the 100 small enterprises, most still don’t have a wastewater treatment plant. Some already process their waste. However, due to their limited capacity, they have to dump waste into the river,” the agency said.

He also said that his department was planning to construct waterwaste treatment plants in Polokarto that would capture waste from liquor producers.

“The land we want to use is in a green zone. The public works and housing agency is currently taking care of the land,” he said.