Bali, Napa and sustainable groundwater management
Bill Hocker | Nov 3, 2016
We have just returned from a fact finding mission to the island of Bali. (It has become impossible to be simple tourists on our travels any more.)
We were struck by some comparisons to the situation in Napa: The two economies are principally a combination of agriculture and tourism. Napa is about a third the size of Bali. (Napa and Sonoma together are about the same size). While Bali has always been renowned for it's rice production, a committment to tourism in the last few decades has made it 70-80% of the island's economy. Tourism is about 30% of the Napa economy (and growing). There are some 8-10 million foreign and domestic tourists coming to Bali each year, somewhere around 2 tourists for each of Bali's 4.2 million residents. Napa has about 3 million tourists, equating to 21.4 tourists for each of its 140 thousand residents. Maybe that's why some Napans get more worked up over the impacts of tourism than the Balinese seem to.
One of the interesting comparisons was the concern that both places have for water availability. Bali is a very wet place with rainfall about 15 times that of Napa. It was hard to imagine a water shortage. But apparently the conversion from an agricultural to a tourism economy over the last 3 decades has had a significant impact on the available water and the island has reached a water crisis. This article explains the problem:
Jakarta Post: Tourism industry responsible for water crisis in Bali: Expert
As well as this informative site: Sawah Bali
And this YouTube video: Bali Water Crisis - The Time to Act Is NOW!
And this academic study: A political ecology of water equity and tourism: A Case Study From Bali
Solutions to Bali's problems are being proposed that depend on retaining more of the substantial rainfall in the groundwater aquifer. That is not an option here. Given our modest and dwindling rainfall such technical solutions are less likely. The impact of increasing tourism and urbanization, along with the expansion of vineyards, have the potential to present a similar significant crisis as the development boom continues.
The comparison of the two tourist economies and the impact on water is well worth a look, particularly in light of the scant concern given to future tourism development in the WICC report the county has penned to submit under the State's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, to be presented to the BOS on Dec 13th, Item 9A here.
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