Where ever I traveled in Yogya, the city I loved due to its joie de vivre attitude, both of its people and nature, water is the problem. When I stay in a hotel or a guest house, the water smells, though it does not smell as bad as the one in Jakarta that is clearly an insult to life – a mix of chlorine and corrosive pipes. The smell is like the smell of virgin water but tainted unnecessarily by synthetics. It was only during our travel to Kulon Progo in a radio car that we knew the city of Yogya depends on Kulon Progo for the source of its clean air. It is a sorry interpretation of ‘Yin-Yang’ philosophy that one should mix something good with something bad before something can be of any good use. But what if the result is zero in a sense that anything good, wholesome, from Kulon Progo’s clear water, is washed out by the toxic effect of the synthetics? What if, worse, it will not only kill everything good right way but also have a long-term repercussion to persons who drink it and, of course, the nature it passes?
In Kulon Progo, the problem with water is severe, albeit in another form. I stayed in a very pristine Dusun, called Plono Timur, where vegetation is lush so the fresh air is everywhere. There is constant rain as it is located on the mountain, not far Puncak Menoreh. It is the producers of one of the best-tasting tea and coffee I have ever tasted so you could imagine my surprise that water has been a constant problem for the people there.
Water is scarce during the dry season that the two waterfalls surrounding the tea plantation one was dry and the other one only contains half of its full capacity. During the rainy season water is also a constant battle because though the supply of the groundwater is abundant, the quality of the water is really bad due to fungi growth. There is also a growing reluctance to use the communal water supply (Pamdes) because of the cost and the inconsistent supply; pipes materials are easily broken due to high pressure especially those in the low ground area and the fact that water ground is definitely not a sustainable source of water supply.
Not far from Kulon Progo, there is another municipality called Bantul where most of the topsoil of its land are comprised of calcic. What differentiates between those where rice fields are still present and those that are not in the presence of water. Vegetation is plenty, even in the dry season, the closer it is to the sea level.
What made me as a visitor having a difficulty to live with regards to water is how the hard water ruin my hair, making it literally stiff, and it is undrinkable as the calcic level is high and can create kidney stone – not to mention the difficulty to clean the pan upon boiling it.
When I run on the rice field, I saw how dry the ground is caused by the calcic to the point that the only plants that can grow there are teaks (tectona grandis).
The hardships that people undergo in Bantul has made them decide to use ‘mineral’ water for their daily consumption. However, the problem with this type of water is a health impact. Mineral water, contrary to what has been marketed, is not ready-to-drink water. It is not prepared with a procedure to kill the ground bacteria. The second problem is the synthetics, i.e. silver, they use to prevent mold growth is dangerous to human body. It can change the nature of ground bacteria to make them genetically mutate and when they invest in inflamed body tissue in humans, it will create anti-bacterial resistance-related diseases.
A similar, even bigger problematic issue, is with PAM water. The heavy, sometimes totally unnecessary use of synthetics such as chlorine can create various human health havoc such as dementia and other brain-damaged (Kawahara & Kato-Negishi, 2011).
The Proposed Solution: The meeting of two good things
In the land that Project Gemi bought, we find that we can at least utilize the source of water: rainwater and groundwater.
Rainwater is free from calcic. Pure rainwater will contain all the minerals our bodies need. However, it was contaminated by something worse: synthetics that come from air and water pollution. There is still an unfortunate habit driven by the belief by my countrymen and women that what we burn will disappear to the sky – a dangerous myth that requires collaborative effort to debunk.
Groundwater is free from synthetic pollutants. However, it is not recommended to use for human consumption as it contains calcic that are bad for health. Calcic aids in the built up of kidney stones. It also damages hair and makes cooking utensils hard to clean. Most importantly, it is also the cause of land deterioration.
How can one turn these two unwholesome water into one that is not only safe to drink but in a way that is improving the environment?
In this project, one of our proposals is in the form of Water Harvesting System, a system that will use natural substances from the byproduct of our future food production facility as the filters. The system will also use gravity and energy from bio-fermentation to reduce dependency on energy from solar fuel.