Friday, September 28, 2012

In Jakarta Water Comes From a Bottle, Not From the Tap

                                                         Many residents of Muara Baru depend on vendors for clean water even in the midst of floods and tidal waves

More and more Jakartans are buying drinking water in galon (19-liter plastic containers) and ditching the old way of boiling and filtering tap water. Some do it for convenience reasons, while others do it for health reasons.

Herlina, a 30-year-old housewife in Palmerah, West Jakarta, for example, said that she had been buying drinking water in galon for six years because it was more practical than boiling tap water.

“The tap water in my house smells like bleach,” she said. “I have to store it for two to three days to get rid of the smell before boiling it. This is too much of a hassle.”

Meanwhile, Meilina, a 40-year-old resident of Harapan Mulya in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, said that she did not mind shelling out the extra money for a galon every two days for her family of four because she could not stand the taste of tap water.

“Even after I boil it, I can still taste the bleach,” said Meilina, who has been buying drinking water in galon for four years.

While both Herlina and Meilina do not use tap water for drinking, they said that they still used it for cooking.

Herlina, however, said that she still stored the water before using it for cooking.

“I also look at the color of the tap water first. If it is dirty, like it has been for the past few days, I use galon water to cook,” she said.

While Herlina stores tap water first to make it safe for cooking purpose, Rendy Chang, 39, uses a water purifier.

“I don’t drink tap water because it is too dirty, unlike Japan’s tap water, which is safe for drinking,” said Rendy, who lived in Japan for 10 years.

Not all Jakartans, however, are afraid to drink tap water.

“There’s nothing wrong with drinking tap water. I’ve never gotten sick from drinking tap water. Even today, I use it to make tea,” said Sofyan Sulaeman, 67, who lives in Bungur, Senen, Central Jakarta.

According to the Indonesian Association of Bottled Drinking Water Companies, Greater Jakarta and environs consumes a lot of bottled water, including galon, compared to other cities: 20.5 million liters per day. 

That’s more than a million galon, and 39 percent of the total national consumption.

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