Percolation pits focus of planned inspections
City News – March 12, 2007

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar will inspect upscale business and residential areas in South Jakarta this week to check whether building managements and homeowners have set up percolation pits on their property.

The first target will be Cilandak Town Square, or Citos, a popular hangout in South Jakarta.

“We will also inspect luxury houses in Pondok Indah this week. There is no reason for building owners in the area not to have already built the mandatory percolation pits,” Rachmat said Saturday.

He said there would be sanctions for building owners and homeowners who had yet to set up the pits.

“We want to build a culture of shame in society. We want people to be ashamed of not having percolation pits, with reports in the media to play a part in this,” the minister said.

A Jakarta ordinance on percolation pits issued in 2002 requires all building owners, regardless of the size of the building, to set up a percolation system.

But when that bylaw was revised in 2005, there were only 106,873 percolation pits in the city, most set up by the administration.

Percolation pits are one method of harvesting rainwater. These simple pits can make more rainwater percolate down through the soil, recharging the aquifer and increasing the availability of groundwater.

The state minister’s inspections come in the aftermath of the recent devastating floods, which affected up to 70 percent of the capital.

Rachmat said poor city planning, coupled with the lack of percolation pits, was among the main causes for the floods.

He said the percolation system was crucial for harvesting rainwater in order to reduce flood risks and prevent a water crisis.

The minister said inspections would also be carried out in industrial areas, such as Jababeka in Bekasi, to promote the need for percolation pits.

“We plan to make the percolation system a requirement for industrial areas as well,” he said.

Rachmat earlier said his office would build 10 percolation pits at the Presidential Palace and five at the Vice President’s Office.

However, this plan has yet to be implemented because both the President and Vice President are busy dealing with a series of natural disasters and transportation accidents in the country.

Rachmat said building percolation systems in government offices was the best way to demonstrate to people the importance and ease of these systems.

The Jakarta Environmental Management Agency will follow up the state minister’s inspections of shopping malls in April, agency chairman Budirama Natakusumah told The Jakarta Post.

He said the administration had asked all companies operating in Jakarta to help build percolation pits in densely populated areas.

The administration says the city needs at least two million such pits to harvest part of the some two billion cubic meters of rainwater that falls annually in the city.

There are at least 12 different kinds of percolation pits able to harvest rainwater. The cheapest and simplest is a 100-centimeter deep pit with a diameter of 10 cm filled with untreated waste. As worms, insects and fungi work together to decompose the waste, they create pore spaces, allowing rainwater easily to reach the aquifer.