Bali is Indonesia’s surf paradise. Right? Well it is and it isn’t. Over the last few years due to tourism raging rampant and all the bad side effects that come with it, the island is looking a little less like the paradise it once was. Add a dwindling water supply to the other issues like traffic accidents, bombings, gangs, drugs, poisoned alcohol, and more. Oh yeah and guess who is one of the many to blame? That’s right… US President Donald Trump.



A few kilometers north in Tanah Lot is the land earmarked for a sprawling new resort built by Indonesian tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo and his business partner US President Donald Trump. It’s the latest instance of money pouring in from outside the island to capitalize on its tourism industry.

Tourism makes up as much as 80 percent of Bali’s economy, although the vast majority of the sector, an estimated 85 percent of it, is in the hands of non-Balinese investors. For many Balinese like Wayan, the island’s growth has passed them by. His family sold off their land once it became too difficult to farm. Today, he maintains a wealthy company’s villas, hotels, and resorts, working three times longer than he ever did as a farmer in a bid to keep up with Bali’s rising cost of living.

“When the tourists came in everything got so expensive,” he told me. “We cannot get vegetables and rice anymore because the Balinese people kept selling their land. There are so many buildings, but not so many vegetables in Bali at this time.”


Wayan paused for a moment and thought about where all the water went. “Maybe it’s global warming or something like that,” he said.

The real culprit is staring everyone in Bali right in the face. It’s the tourism industry. As much as 65 percent of the island’s groundwater is being used by the tourism sector, according to a series of studies. Those same studies found that, island-wide, hotel rooms and villas consumesome 3,000 liters of water every single day.

That’s not even taking into account the water used by pools, excessive showering, construction projects (you need water to make cement), and golf courses—like the new 18-hole course planned for the new Trump resort. Altogether, the tourism sector has caused 260 of Bai’s 400 something rivers to run dry and it’s lowered the island’s water table by some 60 percent. Bali’s biggest body of fresh water, Lake Buyan, had dropped 3.5 meters and the aquifer is fast approaching a point of no return as sea water seeps into the fresh water reserves.


Once Bali’s aquifer becomes contaminated, the damage would irreversible, explained the expert, who wished to remain anonymous after receiving death threats for previously speaking out on this issue.



Click to VICE for Jed Smith’s feature on Bali running out of water due to tourism and corrupt government




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