Source: Bappenas PPP Book 2017. Bandar Lampung Water Supply is listed as "ready to offer project" for privatization.

The central government of Indonesia has repeatedly announced the ambition to increase access to clean water to 100 percent in 2019. To achieve this, about 27 million new connections are needed, with an investment need as much as IDR 274.80 trillion (US$20.8 billion). And most of the time, as clearly seen from official documents such as the government’s 2017 PPP book and the president’s regulation, the government sees privatization as an instant solution.

As a result, 2017 saw the new wave of water privatization in Indonesia. The following are some of the major water privatization projects promoted by the government:

  • Pasuran, East Java. Umbulan Drinking Water Supply System (SPAM) in Pasuruan is the government’s flagship water project (dubbed as “megaproject”) that is particularly heavy in promoting private sector’s involvement. The project is worth Rp4.51 trillion (US$341.38 million) implemented with Public-Private Partnerships. The water facility is officially opened in 20 July 2017. The impact of this water privatization will include five heavily populated municipalities as well as industrial centers (Surabaya, Pasuruan, Sidoarjo, Mojokerto, and Gresik) as the water facility supplies clean water to water utilities in the respective cities. The project has already sustained public resistance. Civil society organizations had protested against the project to local legislators.
  • Semarang, Central Java. A drinking water facility, also under SPAM development project, is ready to be built in western part of Semarang, a town with 1.5 million population. The project will cost Rp1.1 trillion (US$83.26 million) and the government has appointed a private company to implement the plan. The project is claimed to be the solution for improving water supply to reduce rapid land subsidence. The concession was given despite the existence of a capable public water utility.
  • Bekasi, West Java. The government of Bekasi (population 2.6 million) is working together with a water consultancy firm to accelerate drinking water facility project in the city. Even though at the moment the project is still at an early stage, there is a high possibility that the water supply system project will be awarded to the private firm.
  • Batam Island, Riau. Water services in Batam (population 944,000) are already operated under a privatized system. However, BP Batam, the local authority, is preparing two drinking water supply system projects. While the current private water company’s business contract will end in 2020, from its statements in the media, it can be inferred that BP Batam will involve other parties from the private sector.
  • Bandar Lampung, Lampung. The government is organizing an auction for private companies bidding for Bandar Lampung’s water supply system (population 881,000). The project is worth Rp 1.40 trillion (US$105.97 million). So far, there are five consortiums shortlisted for the candidates. The successful candidate will be announced by the end of next year. According the government’s PPP roadmap, the concession of Bandar Lampung’s water supply system will be arranged for 25 years contract.
  • South Bali. Ministry of Public Works have stated a commitment to build water infrastructure in South Bali by inviting private companies. At the moment, the government is making adjustments to the local institutions in order to conform the regulations for water privatization. Governor of Bali welcomed the ministry’s plan.
  • Other drinking water supply system projects that will be offered as PPP are: Pondok Gede (US$ 25 million), Pekanbaru (US$ 35.5 million), and raw water facility in Banten (US$17 million).

Most projects are designated officially under the umbrella of SPAM (drinking water supply system) project. Even though most of this new wave of privatization is coming to just the raw water treatment process, the concept of SPAM actually covers the whole process of drinking water supply, from raw water collection down to drinking water distribution to users. According to the annulled water resources law, SPAM projects should be implemented by state-owned companies. However, the law only loosely prioritizes state-owned companies, and is quick in mentioning that the government is also allowed to involve the private sector. The central government, apparently, has strong preference for the latter.

In addition, the trend demonstrates how the government is sidestepping privatization of water utilities by providing a room for the private sector in water treatment process. This is the upstream process where drinking water is produced. The downstream portion of water services, which are distribution and operation, falls under the domain of water utilities that are still managed and owned publicly.

This could be problematic for public water utilities that are already self-sufficient. PDAM Surabaya for instance, which has exceptionally good performance, will instead be burdened with dependency on for-profit company’s water supply. As can be seen in Jakarta, the government and public water utility can hardly hold the private companies accountable for their rates policy and performance.

The earliest wave of water privatization in Indonesia took place in Jakarta in 1997. Two private companies managed to take over the operation of water services in Jakarta. The privatization has been failing miserably, leaving half of the population without access to proper piped-water services. Other problems are mounting, such as skyrocketing tariffs and financial losses to the public budget.

The public keeps striving to end the water privatization. One of the strongest efforts is through legal action. The residents and civil society organizations filed a citizen lawsuit in 2012 against water privatization. In 2015, the residents won and the privatization contract agreements were annulled by the court. The ruling, unfortunately, was challenged by the defendants, including the private water operators and the central government.

This has effectively deterred the city administration from taking over water services, as the contract agreements that give private operators an exclusive right to deliver water services is still effective. It is very likely that the private operators are buying times through legal tactics in order to maintain privatized water services until its expiry. And globally, maintaining the first wave of water privatization means paving the way for the next ones.

In October 2017 the Supreme Court ordered termination of water privatization and restoration of public management to ensure human right to water. While it needs to be seen how this decision is implemented and if privatization in Jakarta were to be stopped entirely the ruling could help raising critical attention to privatization projects beyond Jakarta and could curb the spread of water privatization in other areas of Indonesia.

Muddy groundwater in northern part of Jakarta (picture: Amrta Institute).


JAKARTA, KOMPAS – Good quality groundwater mapping in the northern Jakarta water basin or CAT Jakarta can help poor communities living in the area who have difficulty accessing clean water. However, the expansion of piped-water services using surface water sources still needs to be considered as a long-term goal.

"The main source for households and commercial activities is ideally from piped water, given that the water has been processed and distributed through closed piping channels," said Director of Amrta Institute Nila Ardhianie, when contacted on Monday (31/7). Moreover, if the piped water is processed from surface water such as rivers, lakes, or dams, groundwater use will be reduced so that the risk of land subsidence decreases.

However, the condition of piped water in Jakarta is still concerning. Based on Jakarta in Figures 2010-2016 from the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) processed by Amrta Institute, more than 60 percent of the water needs in Jakarta each year are fulfilled with groundwater extraction.

In 2000, residents and commuters in Jakarta were 10.48 million with the total water need of 995 million cubic meters. A total of 648 million cubic meters, or 65 percent, comes from groundwater. After 15 years, the number of residents and commuters reached 12.72 million and need 1.2 billion cubic meters of water. Groundwater is used to meet 63 percent of water need or 761 million cubic meters.

Therefore, Nila agreed with the proposal of Groundwater Conservation Center (BKAT). BKAT recommends that spots of good quality groundwater in the northern water basin to be utilized to meet the water needs of lower middle-income households.

BKAT is currently mapping good quality groundwater in northern Jakarta water basin. The team has so far obtained good quality groundwater spots from free aquifers in Pademangan, Koja, Kebon Jeruk, Joglo, Medan Satria, Babelan, Neglasari, and Pinang.

Head of BKAT Mochamad Wachyudi Memed said after the good quality ground water spots have been completely mapped, he will advise central and local governments to utilize groundwater as a source of clean water for residents living in surrounding area. The utilization could be in the form of public toilets and drinking water treatments.

Nevertheless, Nila asked such a strategy is not used as a long-term measure to reduce the risk of land subsidence. "We recommend that piped water services be prioritized in the northern part of the city because the groundwater is already limited," she said.

Wachyudi agreed with Nila. Groundwater will only be reserved. He hoped the government ensures that poor families can access piped water at affordable rates. This is due to expensive costs of improving piped water services.


Translated from Kompas Daily Newspaper, August 1, page 27.

Artikel oleh Nila Ardhianie, Direktur Amrta Institute, dimuat di Harian Kompas, 24 Oktober 2016


Dengan jumlah penduduk  lebih dari 10 juta jiwa dan pelaju 3 juta orang, kebutuhan air yang diperlukan ibu kota  sungguh sangat besar. Tahun 2015  saja setidaknya diperlukan 950 juta meter kubik air untuk mencukupi kebutuhan harian penduduk, industri dan komersial. 

Layanan air permukaan melalui sistem perpipaan oleh PAM Jaya dan operatornya baru mampu memasok  331 juta meter kubik atau sekitar 35 persen, sisanya sebanyak 65 persen dapat dipastikan diambil dari air tanah karena sungai dan sumber air lainnya di Jakarta tidak dapat dimanfaatkan langsung untuk mensuplai kebutuhan air bersih warga.

Meningkatnya jumlah penduduk, aktivitas ekonomi dan industri membuat kebutuhan air meningkat dan belum mampunya PDAM melayani seluruh penduduk dan industri membuat pemanfaatan air tanah menjadi luar biasa besar. Pengambilan air tanah yang berlebihan dan tidak seimbang dengan imbuhannya membuat muka air tanah menurun dan berdampak pada penurunan tanah atau amblesan tanah. Di Jakarta fenomena amblesan tanah mulai dicatat terjadi sejak awal 1990an. Berdasarkan berbagai studi yang dilakukan, penurunan tanah Jakarta terjadi bervariasi secara spasial dan waktu  antara 3-10 cm per tahun. 

Meskipun menjadi gantungan dari sebagian besar warga Jakarta, sayangnya perhatian terhadap air tanah masih sangat kurang. Jarang sekali air tanah menjadi isu sentral yang dibicarakan dalam kebijakan-kebijakan publik baik tingkat nasional terkait dengan posisi Jakarta sebagai ibukota maupun lokal. Hal ini karena air tanah secara fisik tidak terlihat sehingga kerap lolos dari perhatian, kurang dihargai dan kurang diatur dalam peraturan perundangan. 

Dampak penurunan tanah sebetulnya sudah dapat dilihat dari meningkatnya risiko banjir seperti meluasnya luasan banjir, meningkatnya frekuensi dan luasan rob serta  banyaknya bangunan yang retak dan rusak termasuk infrakstruktur publik seperti jalan dan jembatan.  Juga amblesnya rumah dan bangunan milik warga, retak atau rusaknya pipa air di tanah, tidak berfungsinya drainase secara optimal, perubahan aliran sungai, intrusi air laut, makin tingginya biaya perawatan bangunan dan infrastruktur, merosotnya nilai bangunan sampai menurunnya kualitas hidup warga dan tergangunya aktivitas serta produktivitas penduduk Jakarta.

Di Shanghai total kerugian akibat penurunan tanah dalam 40 tahun terakhir adalah 35 milyar Dolar AS. Di Belanda pada 2006 kerugian mencapai 3,5 milyar Euro, sementara di China per tahun rata-rata kerugian adalah 1,5 milyar Dolar AS. 

Penyebab penurunan tanah yang terjadi di Jakarta adalah pemanfaatan air tanah berlebihan, pembebanan bangunan, kompaksi tanah dan fenomena tektonik. Sampai saat ini belum ada penelitian solid dan komprehensif yang menghubungkan penurunan tanah di setiap lokasi di Jakarta dengan penyebabnya, akan tetapi ada cukup banyak artikel ilmiah yang menghubungkan penurunan tanah Jakarta dengan over eksploitasi air tanah. Hal ini  sama seperti yang terjadi di Tokyo, Bangkok, Shanghai, Dhaka, HoChi Minh, Taipe, Rafsanjan, California dan lain-lain. 

Di Tokyo hubungan pengambilan air tanah berlebihan dengan amblesan air tanah sangat nyata terlihat. Setelah penurunan tanah terus terjadi pada awal 1960 pemerintah  membatasi secara ketat pemakaian air tanah, pada akhir 1960-an muka air tanah mulai naik dan awal 1970-an penurunan air tanah mulai berhenti. Pada awal 1970-an Jepang juga banyak membuat proyek substitusi pengganti air tanah yang ditujukan bagi industri, domestik, pertanian. Di Bangkok pemakaian air tanah diperketat sejak 1985 dan terus berlangsung sampai sekarang, dampak positifnya belakangan Bangkok berhasil mengurangi pemakaian air tanah sampai hanya tinggal 10%.

Pengelolaan dan Data Air Tanah

Belajar dari kota-kota lain yang berhasil mengelola air tanahnya maka Jakarta perlu segera membatasi  secara ketat pemakaian air tanah, mengembangkan layanan air perpipaan atau pengembangan perusahaan daerah air minum, mengelola data air tanah dan recharge untuk wilayah-wilayah yang sudah kritis. 

Sebagai dasar pengelolaan dibutuhkan data yang komprehensif meliputi jumlah sumur, dimana lokasinya,  kedalaman, volume pemakaian dan kapan dibuat. Begitu juga dengan kondisi air tanah dari waktu ke waktu, berapa banyak air diambil dari sistem serta kualitasnya. Membangun data base air tanah sangat penting apalagi penelitian Delinom et.al (2015)  menunjukkan bahwa dasar cekungan air tanah Jakarta ternyata bukan merupakan garis yang melandai dari selatan ke utara tetapi menunjukan adanya struktur tinggian dan rendahan serta lebih tipis yang berimplikasi pada jumlah cadangan air tanah Jakarta jumlahnya mungkin lebih sedikit dari yang selama ini diperkirakan. 

Memang untuk mengetahui berapa banyak air tanah dipakai setiap bulan atau setiap tahun bukan pekerjaan mudah. Untuk mengetahui lokasi sumur air tanah cukup sulit, apalagi jika berada di kompleks bangunan besar.  Dari luar tidak bisa dilihat dan mudah sekali bagi pemilik gedung untuk menyembunyikan sumurnya. Akan tetapi sesulit apapun data adalah pondasi penting pengelolaan, seperti sering disampaikan guru manajemen Peter Drucker, what get measured, get managed. Bahkan Napolean Bonaparte yang tidak hidup di abad informasi pun mengatakan war is ninety percent information. 


Nila Ardhianie, pemerhati sumber daya air

In June 2, 2016, in LBH Jakarta office, Jakarta, a public discussion entitled “Discussion and Public Meeting: 19 Years of Water Privatization in Jakarta” was organized. It reveals the problems of water privatization in Jakarta, such as skyrocketing water tariff, financial losses to the public water utility, and substandard services delivered by the private water operators. The speakers in this discussion were Prof. Frans Limahelu (law expert), Andreas Harsono (human rights activist), Nila Ardhianie (director of Amrta Institute for Water Literacy).

Amrta Institute for Water Literacy mendapatkan hak untuk menerjemahkan dan mendistribusikan buku Tata Kelola Air di Paris: Kisah Sukses Pengelolaan Air oleh Pemerintah Kota di Indonesia. Peneliti Amrta Institute Irfan Zamzami menerjemahkan buku ini, sedangkan Nila Ardhianie memberi akta sambutan.

Buku ini diterbitkan oleh Gramedia Pustaka Utama dan diluncurkan pada 8 April 2015, dengan pembicara Menteri Pekerjaan Umum dan Perumahan Rakyat, David Boys (Public Services International), Yenny Wahid (Wahid Foundation), dan Nila Ardhianie, dengan moderator Andreas Harsono (Koordinator Human Rights Watch Indonesia). Turut hadir sebagai peserta adalah Bambang Widjoyanto (Ketua KPK), Satoko Kishimoto (Transnational Institute), Meera Karunanthan (Blue Planet Project), warga penggugat dalam gugatan warga negara melawan privatisasi layanan air Jakarta, PAM Jaya, dan serikat pekerja di lingkungan PAM.

Silakan menghubungi Amrta Institute jika Anda membutuhkan buku ini.

Kuasa hukum pemohon usai mendengarkan amar putusan perkara uji materi UU SDA, Rabu (18/2). Foto: Humas MK


By Nila Ardhianie

Researcher at Amrta Institute for Water Literacy

This article first appeared on The Jakarta Post


The Constitutional Court recently annulled Water Resources Law No. 7/2004 and reinstated Water Law No. 11/1974. The court granted arguments of the plaintiffs, who insisted that the 2004 law had encouraged privatization and commercialization of water resources at the expense of people'€™s rights to water.

Through Resolution 64/292 passed in 2010, to which Indonesia is a party, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.

The resolution calls upon states and international organizations to provide financial resources, capacity building and technology to help countries ensure safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.

The court'€™s ruling emphasizes the state'€™s presence in water management. The state should exercise control over water, which can materialize if the government, as mandated by the Constitution, acts as policymaker, supervisor, regulator, manager and controller of water affairs.

Supervisory function is conducted by issuing and revoking permits, licenses and concessions. As regulator the government works with the House of Representatives in creating legislation, while managing jobs requires the government to be directly involved in state-owned companies as a shareholder. Through control mechanisms the government should ensure that water is used for the well-being of the people.

Water use for consumption and irrigation should be freed from paying water management costs, as long as it takes directly from the water sources. However, if the water source is insufficient, the state is responsible for providing clean water through water distribution.

Regarding the right to water, the court justices underlined that the right was a human right, which could not be separated from any individuals. However, the second kind of right, i.e. the right to exploit water resources, should be interpreted as a tool for the government to control water exploitation. The private sector cannot claim ownership of water sources, but use water allocated by the government.

The principle in the Water Resources Law that says '€œwater users should cover the costs of water management'€, should instead confirm that water itself cannot be monetized, according to the court justices. Besides, it should be flexible and cannot be applied equally to all kinds of water use. The justices specifically mention that water use for people'€™s farming should be exempted from water management costs.

Water provision for other countries is prohibited unless the domestic basic water needs have already been fulfilled, which cover basic needs, sanitation, farming, energy, industry, mining, transporting, forestry and biodiversity, sport, tourism, ecosystem, aesthetics and other needs.

All of these considerations were used by the justices to review the government regulations derived from Water Resources Law to examine how the law was interpreted. From this examination, the court stated that the Water Resources Law was unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs and their lawyers insisted that so-called commercialization of water should stop, meaning the companies must cease to operate. As home to one of the world'€™s biggest bottled water companies and two of the biggest water concession holders on the planet, a chaotic situation stemming from the Court'€™s verdict is inevitable.

Currently there are 46 firms as a result of clean water privatization ( public-private partnership ) in many scale models operating in Indonesia. Over 600 bottled water companies with only 94 registered as members of the Association of Indonesian Producers of Packaged Drinking Water ( Aspadin ) produce and sell bottled water to the local and international markets. For these companies, the reinstatement of Law No. 11/1974 is a total loss as it does not recognize utilization of water and or water resources for commercial purposes.

The only clause related to water utilization for commercial purposes says the '€œcommercialization'€ should be aimed at improving the welfare and prosperity of the people and be conducted by the government, both at central and regional levels and be guided by the principles of brotherhood and economic democracy.

After more than 10 years since the controversial law was enacted, the central government has issued many implementing regulations and numerous regional governments have conducted many activities using this law as legal basis. The government must now come up with a legal framework to ensure the water resources in Indonesia are regulated properly under Law No. 11/1974. The reborn law will leave many '€œblank spots'€ in water resources management.

Many parties, including companies that have invested in the water business, are eagerly waiting for what President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo will do in response to the Court'€™s verdict. If the current government decides to accept the court ruling, all the existing regulations that violate the old law must be revised, but if it rejects the verdict it will have to draft a bill and submit it to the House for deliberation.

Whatever the choice, the government should act fast and properly. Public Works and Public Housing Minister as the leading sector in water related issues should provide the President and Vice President proper information for better decision making.