Unfortunately, no – it is not considered safe to drink tap water in Bali. You might wonder if the reality is as terrifying as it seems – a place with an abundance of splendour surrounded by dangerously contaminated water. But it is harsher than it seems – tap water in Bali is not fit to drink without boiling or filtering (any form of purifying) and it’s always best to be prepared before your visit to keep your stomach happy and healthy.
If you are dreaming of soaking in the sun and swimming in the blue sea, there are a few things to be aware of about the ongoing water crisis in Bali. This article will explore where this problem stems from, why you should avoid Bali tap water and how to prepare for this during your stay.
Is Bali water dirty and toxic as they say?
The water may not seem dirty in Bali but research proves that Indonesia ranks among the worst countries in Asia in sewerage and sanitation coverage due to the lack of proper maintenance of infrastructure. But one other major reason is their annual monsoon weather that washes up marine pollution (plastic and other chemicals) from Java, the neighbouring island that is the economic engine of Indonesia.
The collecting trash on the hidden beaches of Bali affects the rest of the natural water sources, making it extremely difficult to find pure drinking water that has not been contaminated with bacteria, viruses and microscopic metal and plastic pieces. This deteriorates the water quality and makes it extremely dangerous for human consumption.
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What happens if I consume Bali Tap Water?
Among other things to avoid in Bali, such as driving a scooter without a license – consuming tap water is certainly at the top of the list. Tourists are sternly warned to avoid consumption of contaminated natural and tap water to avoid any infections, diseases or food poisoning. Usually called the ‘Bali Belly’ or ‘Travelers Diarrhea’, this lasts about 4-5 days with effects such as watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever, bloating or tummy cramps.
Where does this water crisis in Bali come from?
Experts say the blame falls on Bali’s tourism industry which attracts millions of tourists a year and consequently uses about 65 % of clean water. It has been found that a single tourist uses over 2000 litres of water; and the homestays, hotels and resorts are required to maintain golf courses, gardens and refill swimming pools that these tourists enjoy.
Apart from the overuse, other factors such as water pollution, lack of infrastructure and volatile weather patterns are also taken into account for the ongoing water crisis. More to these reports, a staggering amount of water usage was also found amounting to three million litres a day only from the tourism industry – this results in insufficient clean water for the locals to use.
Unless the Bali tourism industry adapts to sustainable tourism, this current situation is only expected to be much worse by the year 2025.
How can I avoid getting infected with Bali Belly?
As a tourist, you can avoid Bali Belly with a few tips and tricks.
- The first tip is quite easy to guess – try to stay away from consuming tap water in Indonesia whenever possible.
- Avoid dodgy street food vendors as they use tap water for food preparation since it is more convenient.
- In cold beverages, you can avoid ice cubes altogether even if a cold one would be heavenly to enjoy in Bali.
- Avoid splashing your face or brushing your teeth with bacteria-infested water.
- Use bottled water whenever necessary, and check for reputed brands like Aqua and find the source of the water (make sure it isn’t from the same local water sources).
- The most important tip is to make sure that the water is boiled or purified through a filtering system. Most Indonesians spend more than 100,000 rupiahs (7 USD) a month on kerosene to boil their water to make it drinkable. You can do the same if there is a water kettle (most hotels come with their own electric kettle for the room) to boil the water for 5-8 minutes. If there is a reusable metal water bottle that you can carry around to pour boiled water, this will keep you safe throughout your journey without having to drink local tap water.
How likely are you to get sick from consuming Bali water?
This entirely depends on your past consuming habits. There is another side to the story where some tourists had no reactions to drinking tap water and could handle the bacteria that comes with it. For example, it is believed that tourists from South Asia will have less severe reactions when compared to someone from the European region.
So you could be the judge of that! But bear in mind that the long term effects of consuming this contaminated water include kidney problems and even brain injury for children.
But no matter what, Bali will be the paradise that welcomes you with a warm “Selamat Datang” and will always be known for sun, beach and mountains – more welcoming than ever!
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