The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has said a long dry spell affecting Batam over the last several months has caused a sharp decline in the volume of water in dams in the area. If the situation continues, it says, it is probable that Batam will suffer a clean water shortage.
BMKG Batam predicts that El Niño, a weather phenomenon associated with the warming of ocean water that develops in equatorial Pacific areas, will cause a long dry season, leaving Batam without wet season rain until November.
BMKG Batam head Philip Mustamu said that El Niño was not, as many tended to think, a heat wave. "It's a phenomenon during which rainfall in an area is lower than in normal conditions in previous years. This is what is happening now in Batam," said Philip. He added that El Niño was also affecting other areas in Indonesia.
He said rain intensity in Batam was predicted to return to normal in November. "Now, rain has already fallen in certain parts, however, it cannot yet reduce the impacts of El Niño," said Philip.
The BMKG head said El Niño could have an extreme impact if it happened for a much longer period. "If it continues to happen until after November, we will call it an extreme situation," he said.
The current long dry season has caused a decline in water flow rates from five dams managed by tap water company Adhya Tirta Batam (ATB). The water level in Duriangkang, the biggest dam in Batam, has fallen by 1.84 meters. Nongsa Dam's water level fell by 3.98 m, Sei Harapan Dam by 3.65 m, Mukakuning Dam by 2.95 m and Sei Ladi Dam by 2.71 m.
ATB says it has warned Batam residents to be thrifty with their water use. The company has also urged people to reserve clean water in tanks in their homes to anticipate more severe water shortages if the situation worsens.