WWF: Water quality in Mendalam River, Heart of Borneo, now has significantly improved

Posted on 18 October 2012

Analysis of hydrological monitoring activity by Equitable Payment for Watershed Services (EPWS) Program in West Kalimantan

- The four years analysis on water quality of Mendalam River, Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan since 2009 until 2012, done by WWF-Indonesia West Kalimantan Program in collaboration with ICRAF, LIPI and PDAM Tirta Dharma (state tap-water company), showed a significant decrease in water turbidity and sediment concentration in Mendalam River.

"This study showed a decrease in the average concentration of turbidity, from 13.2 NTU in July 2009 to 8.4 NTU (36.4%) in the measurement from June to July 2012. Trend of sediment concentration indicated a decrease approximately 41.6%, from 26.4 mg / liter (2009) to 15.4 mg / liter in 2012," said Iwan Ridwansyah, MSc, researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

"To address the quality problem of the river in West Kalimantan Province, WWF-Indonesia, CARE and IIED, supported by WWF Netherlands DGIS, started since 2006, have been working together through implementation of EPWS Program in Mendalam River, Kapuas Hulu," said M. Hermayani Putera, West Kalimantan Program Manager of WWF-Indonesia.

Emanuel Haraan Ryanto, Director of PDAM Tirta Dharma Kapuas Hulu said that the study conducted in Mendalam River since 2007-2009 has informed that around 4-15 tons / year of sediment resulted from the river. At least 37 landslide areas with more than 100 meters depth occurred on the banks of the river, as well as more than 76 other landslide locations that are less than 100 meters. Forest cover in the Mendalam currently remains only about 40%.

"The river supplies water for the PDAM Tirta Dharma in Putussibau. Turbidity of the water in this river is now reaching up to 16 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Unit), far above the minimal score for drinking water standards according to the regulation of the Indonesia Ministry of Health, which is 5 NTU. If this trend maintains, it will have an impact on improving the quality of tap water treatment, eventually processed tap water distributed by PDAM will be safe for consumption and meet the minimum standards set by the Ministry of Health. We thank you for the efforts made by the WWF to improve the environment, particularly in Mendalam sub-watershed. This will be very useful for people who use tap water," added Emanuel.

During the implementation of EPWS program, restoration has been done in the area of landslides along the banks of the Mendalam River. Mapping of critical areas, planting 140,000 cultivated tree types such as cocoa, rubber (local and superior quality), and also other types of useful local plants such as belian, tengkawang and gaharu. Restoration covered 5 villages totalling approximately 212 hectares. In addition, the program also helps to improve the capacity of the community through several activities such as comparative study on rubber management to one state-owned plantation company in Indonesia (PTPN XIII) in Sintang, training for plantation (nursery to planting), training on measuring water discharge, water sampling, and measurement of the landslides volume. The program has also installed three units of automatic rain gauge and 2 units of automatic water level recorder. All activities of monitoring and assessment involved local communities in 5 villages on the banks of Mendalam River.

Zainal AM, the Head Village of Nanga Sambus, said that people in Mendalam sub-watershed area have hope that the PES program can be successfully realised, which will motivate them to continue to maintaining the river quality, particularly Mendalam River, and can improve revenue of communities who lives near the river. "Let’s protect together. If the people who live in the upper stream protect the area, this will yield good impact to people downstream. They will appreciate the restoration effort done by upper stream people,” he added.

"We welcome the cooperation of the parties in integrating the whole comprehensive aspects involving economic, environmental and social development in the development of the sub-watershed. Hopefully this can be an example for other regions, "said Drs. Suparman, Head of Kapuas Hulu Local Planning Agency.

"With the decrease in water turbidity and sediment concentration, it has indicated that there is a positive impact of the activities carried out by EPWS Program in Mendalam River. To enhance the broader impacts, we recommend this work to be extended in two other rivers, the Sibau River and Kapuas River," said Hermayani.

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For more information, please contact:
WWF Indonesia
Albertus Tjiu
HP: 08125624019
Email: albertus@wwf.or.id
Puslit Limnologi-LIPI
Iwan Ridwansyah, MSc.
HP: 0816635801
Email: iwanridwansyah@gmail.com

PDAM Tirta Dharma Kapuas Hulu
Slamet Sugianto, Amd
HP. 081257846888
Email: tirtauncakkapuas@yahoo.com

Notes for Editors:

Forest ecosystems provide a wide range of environmental services benefiting public. Services include the services of water, carbon, biodiversity and landscape beauty. Report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) stated 60% of the world's ecosystem services have been degraded more rapidly than the ability to fix it.

Particularly in Indonesia, with 62 watersheds covering an area of 18.5 million hectares, now are in critical condition. Conditions that cause a decrease in reserves of water resources, fluctuations in water discharge, as well as increasing the rate of sedimentation and erosion. The impact of these conditions will increase the cost of drinking water treatment and worsen the quality of water services and such a disadvantage for river transportation users.

About EPWS Program
In 2006, a partnership was established between the three international agencies to explore the business aspects of PWS (Payment for Watershed Services). The project is called "Equitable Payments for Watershed Services". Activities implemented through two phases.

Phase I: Building the Business Case (2006 - 2009)
Phase I goal is to prepare and build a real business case for buyers and sellers of PWS that are suitable for targeted project sites. This approach is essential to convince potential buyers and sellers that PWS mechanism that will be implemented is based on ecological and economical condition. At the end of Phase I, it is considered a successful business between buyers and sellers if agreement of cooperation in each location is signed. Activities in Phase I include baseline studies on: hydrology, institutions, livelihood and the business case (cost-benefit).

Phase II: Implementing Equitable Payments for Watershed Services (2010 - present)
Implementation phase will deal with relevant partners at the local, national and international, private sector, and government agencies. Expected result in Phase II is successful implementations of PWS mechanism in all targeted project locations, sustainable nature resource management, and improvement of community livelihoods. Activities in Phase II include restoration, Tembawang local tree enhancement and hydrology.

WWF is an independent global conservation organization, established in 1961 in Switzerland, with almost 5 million supporters and networks in more than 100 countries. WWF has been present in Indonesia since 1962 for one-horned rhinoceros project in Ujung Kulon, became a foundation in 1998 and present in more than 25 working areas in 17 provinces.

WWF-Indonesia’s mission is to save biodiversity and reduce the ecology impacts from human activities through: promoting strong conservation ethics, knowledge and conservation efforts in Indonesian people; facilitating multi-stakeholders efforts in biodiversity protection and ecological process at the eco-regional scale; policy advocacy, law enforcement to support conservation; and encouraging conservation for human welfare through sustainable utilization of natural resources.

For further information, visit www.wwf.or.id or www.panda.org

Heart of Borneo (HoB)

The Heart of Borneo covers more than 22 million hectares (220,000 km2) of equatorial rainforest across the countries of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia. One of Asia’s last great rainforests, it includes some of the most biologically diverse habitats on earth, and is one of only two places on earth where elephants, orangutans, rhinoceros and clouded leopards share the same territory. In the past 15 years, more than 500 new flora or fauna species have been discovered, at a rate of more than three per month.
Borneo’s cultural diversity is as distinct and varied as the island’s animal and plant life. In Kalimantan (Indonesia) alone, 142 different languages are believed still to be in use today. Many people depend directly on the forest for edible and medicinal plants; fish; meat; construction materials and water. As the headwaters of the island’s major rivers lie in Borneo’s central highlands, protection is critical to ensuring reliable clean water supplies to a large number of human settlements, and the thriving industries that have developed in coastal urban centres.

Heart of Borneo Declaration
In February 2007, the governments of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia signed the Heart of Borneo Declaration to protect an area of more than 220,000 square kilometres in the centre of the island and bordering all three countries. Together they emphasised the fact that these tropical rainforests have strategic, global, national and local functions, not only for citizens of these three countries but for the global human race. The declaration is supported under important regional and international agreements such as Association of East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD).  

For more information visit: www.panda.org/heartofborneo

Installation of water level recorder
© WWF-Indonesia / Radius Haraan