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Water Rights and Water Allocation in Indonesia 1)

Waluyo Hatmoko 2)

The increases of population and socio-economic activities in Indonesia have escalated the
water demand for various purposes. On the other hand the water available is relatively still
the same, and even in some rivers has been deteriorated. Conflicts of water have occurred,
and more conflict might happen in the future. Proper water rights and water allocation
system is expected to allocate the limited water in a fair, efficient and sustainable manner.
This paper discussed the water rights and water allocation in Indonesia. Annual water
allocation in Indonesia have been established since the old Dutch era, while the real-time
water allocation in some river basins have been carried out in river basins managed by
public owned company, and some other pilot basins Strategic water allocation study for the
river basin water resources masterplan as stated in Water Law 2004, have carried out by
national consultant since the year of 2005. It is concluded that water rights and water
allocation framework in Indonesia have been formulated well in the Water Law; however
more implementation regulations are still needed.
Keywords: water allocation, water rights, water resources management, Indonesia

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1) Presented at the International Seminar on Water Resources Allocation, Beijing, China, 14 15
September 2010, Supported by Ministry of Water Resources, PRC and Asian Development Bank
2) Researcher, Research Center for Water Resources,
Agency of Research and Development, Ministry of Public Works, Indonesia
Jl. Ir, H. Juanda 193, Bandung 40135, Indonesia
Fax: +62-22-2500163, email:

Indonesia consists of 17,508 large and small islands, and with a coastline of 84,000 km. It is
the largest archipelago nation in the world covering a land area of 1.92 million km2. Most
islands have mountainous areas of volcanic origin and some have active volcanoes. This
country is subject to tropical climate, which is marked by two seasons, the wet season from
October to March and the dry season from April to September. This seasonal rainfall pattern is
most pronounced in the west region from Sumatera to Bali. The east region except Papua has
a rainy season, which is normally shorter than that of the west region. Between 53% and 86 %
of the mean annual rainfall occurs in the October to March rainy season period. Soil of Java
and Bali are deep and fertile, while those of other islands are less fertile and particularly
sensitive to erosion as the forest and ground cover is destroyed.
Java Island is the most socially and economically progressive island has 59% of the national
population with a population density of 919/km2. This has resulted in both surface and
groundwater quality degradation. In Java and Sumatera, urban and industrial development
encroaches on agricultural lands and result in conversion to other uses. The combined effect
of deforestation, and population growth threaten water quality for existing development, and
water availability for future development. At the latest decades, the condition of food selfsufficient status has become worse. That worse condition has not just caused by global
climate changes but also suffering a lack of capability to manage water, and lack of
sustainable financing management and of course deforestation on the upper watershed.
The increasing in non-agriculture demand, the competition for water uses will increase
conflicts between the different types of users, increase water quality problem during low flow
(Anshori, 2005).

River Basins and River Basin Organizations

River Basin Territories
In Indonesia, there are 5,590 rivers, which according the Ministry of Public Works Decree, is
divided into 133 river basin territory. From the total of 133 River Basin Territories (RBT),
there are 69 National RBTs which consists of 5 cross boundaries RBTs, 27 cross provinces
RBTs, and 37 strategic RBTs; 51 Provincial RBTs[ and 13 District RBTs. The national RBT is

managed by central government, while the provincial RBT and district RBT are managed by
provincial and district government respectively.

Figure 1 River Basin Territory in Indonesia

River Basin Organizations

Each River Basin Territories is managed by a River Basin Organization (RBO). There are two
different kinds of RBOs in Indonesia: public-utility type RBO, and corporate type RBO.
Public Utility type RBO is under the Government, mainly concentrated in structural
development, rehabilitation and public-obligation services. There are 33 RBOs under Central
Government, and 59 RBO under Provincial Government..
Corporate-type RBO tasks are cost-recovery activities and conduct operation, maintenance,
and water services. The two successful corporate type RBOs are Jasa Tirta I, operating in
Brantas and Bengawan Solo River Basin in Central and East Java; and Jasa Tirta II operating
in Citarum River Basin in West Java.
Indonesian RBOs are actively involved in the Network of Asian River Basin Organization
(NARBO) established in the year2004. Indonesia also play important role in the Asia Pacific
Water Forum, as the center of excellence of the water knowledge hubs along Asia and Pacific
region in the subject of river basin organization, by hosting the Center of River Basin
Organization and Management (CRBOM). The main function of CRBOM is capacity
building, strengthening the existing NARBO. It works closely related with Dissemination

Unit for Water Resources Management and Technology (DUWRMT) which aims to develop
the Indonesian RBOs capacity.

Water Rights and Water Allocation

Water Rights in Indonesia
Indonesian Water Law states that water resources are controlled by the State and are to be
used for the welfare of the Indonesian people in a fair way. The State guarantees right of
everyone to obtain water to fulfill basic daily needs for healthy, clean, and productive life,
while recognizing local traditional community rights, as long as they are not contradictory to
national interests.

Figure 2 Indonesian Water Rights (Directorate General of Water Resources, 2005)

Water utilization right consists of communal water usage right and commercial water
exploitation right that can not be leased out or transferred, partly or wholly. The first priority
of water allocation is the basic daily human needs and small-scale farming within existing

irrigation systems. There are customary rights, provided it is not contradictory to national
interests and legislative regulations.

Status of Water Licensing System

According to the Indonesian Water Law, water allocation in Indonesia should be based on
master plans and annual water allocation plans. However in fact, the groundwater licensing is
operated by districts, while no uniformity for surface water permits system. Some surface
water licensing systems are operated by provinces under previous water law and provincial
regulation. Implementation regulations are still need to be established.

Strategic, Annual and Real-time Water Allocation in Indonesia

Strategic Water Allocation
After the Independence Day, strategic water allocation planning since the first five years plan
in 1969 was carried out by foreign experts under loan monetary funding. After the
establishment of new Water Law in 2004, strategic water allocation planning in each River
Basin Territory, to meet the requirement of Water Law have started in 2005, by Indonesian
Consultant under national and provincial budgeting system.
Annual Water Allocation
Annual water allocation planning in Indonesia has a long history since the Dutch Era in the
19th century, based on irrigation cycle of half-monthly time-step, except in East that using a
decade time-step. The annual global planting plan is based on the water availability in term of
dependable flow 80%. The annual plan is prepared by irrigation commission comprised of
government and water user association, and issued by governor or head of district.
Real-time Water Allocation
The water availability, in reality will not always be the same with the dependable flow 80% as
used in the annual allocation plan. Real-time water allocation based on the current water
demand and availability would improve the efficiency and equity of water allocation
(Hatmoko, 2006). Real-time water allocation management has already been implemented by
the two Public Corporations: Jasa Tirta I in Brantas Basin, and Jasa Tirta II in Citarum Basin.

Real time water allocation during dry season is promoted in some basins in Java since the
year of 2000 (Anshori, 2005).

Case Study Bengawan Solo

Basin Condition
Bengawan Solo is the longest river in Java. Its length is about 600 kilometers. The catchment
area of Bengawan Solo river basin is densely populated, with around 15 million people, a
population which is more than population of many countries. The areal of Bengawan Solo
river basin is about 16,100 km2, covering parts of Central Java and East Java Provinces. The
average rainfall is 2,100 mm/year, with a distinct seasonality. The land use is paddy fields
35%; other farmland 17%; forest 24%; and other uses 24%
Important infrastructures are Wonogiri Multipurpose Dam, built in the year of 1983, having
storage of 0.4 billion m3, and the 43 small dams with a total active storage of 0.7 billion m3.
Flood is annual chore in Bengawan Solo River. About 8 percent of the basin is flood-prone
area. As an illustration, flood in late 2007 inundated 120,000 ha. Drought is also frequent,
affecting both the rainfed and the irrigated areas (Sudarsono, 2009).

River Basin Organization

Bengawan Solo Basin is an inter-province river basin. There are two river basin organizations
in Bengawan Solo: 1) Jasa Tirta Public Corporation 1 (Perum Jasa Tirta 1 or PJT1), operating
and maintaining the basin's water infrastructure, as well as flood management, watershed
management, morphological management, and water quality monitoring; and 2) River Basin
Development Agency (Balai Besar Wilayah Sungai Bengawan Solo or BBWS-BS),
undertaking basin-level water resources planning and related tasks.
Both RBOs are located in Solo City, and both are members of the Water Council, and the
Council's secretariat is hosted by BBWS-BS.

Figure 3 Bengawan Solo River Basin (Sudarsono, 2009)

Figure 4 DSS-Ribasim Schematization of Bengawan Solo River Basin

The Water Council

The Water Council of Bengawan Solo Basin was established in February 2009, as a platform
for stakeholder liaison and an advisory body for water-related, basin-level development. As
the first such bodies in Indonesia, it is becoming a success story example for other water
council in Indonesia.
Water Council Membership is chaired by Chairman from the Chief of Planning and
Development Agency of Central Java Province; and Daily Chairman, from the Chief of Water
Resources Service of Public Work, East Java Province. This position is shifted between the
two provinces each year. The Council has 64 members, 32 governmental and 32 Non
Governmental Organization (NGO). The NGO members are appointed for a 5-years period,
with the following criteria: recommendation by a relevant body; have been legally active for
at least 3 years; and based in the river basin district.
Water Council Responsibility is to identify development needs and opportunities, provides
policy guidance, and undertakes strategic development planning and implementation

planning. The Council reports to the Minister of Public Works and to the Governors of Central
Java and East Java Provinces (Sudarsono, 2009).

Water Allocation
Water abstraction permits acts as one of the main regulating instrument of the water rights
(Valiant, 2007). Water allocation among users and geographical areas is implemented in the
basin level, at two levels: 1) strategic water allocation plan for the 20 years ahead. It is called
Pola or Pre Masterplan, and Rencana or Masterplan. Figure 4 shows a DSS-Ribasim
schematization for water allocation in Bengawan Solo River Basin to facilitate development
of Pola; and annual water allocation plan issued by the head of districts in Bengawan Solo
River Basin.

Concluding Remarks
Key Issues
The key issues in water rights and water allocation in Indonesia can be identified as follows:
1) Conflict on water allocation and its utilization and usage between commercial and noncommercial between sectors, between district/city; 2) No guarantee from government on
sustainable water required by the users (especially in commercial sector), including no
compensation losses/damages due to unsustainable water supplies; 3) Coordination: too many
institutions involved in water resources management, surface and groundwater management
are under two separate institutions, lack of coordination between spatial planning and water
resources planning processes; 4) Regulations: implementing regulations of Water Law are not
yet complete; 5) Law enforcement; 6) Lack of adequate hydrological data; 7) Cost recovery is
not significant; and 8) Human resources: lack of capacities, and generation gap.

Lessons learned
Lessons learned from experiences are: Legal framework to provide support and legal basis for

rights and water allocation activities has to be set up; Public involvement


awareness to support of activities is one of the key success of water allocation management;
Water council at the basin level is essential to promote a fair, efficient and sustainable water

allocation; Water allocation is better managed from the lowest (local) possible level; Local
wisdom is one of the most important success factor in water allocation; and a Decision
Support System for Water Allocation is not a must. However it might encourage better data
collection and analysis process


1. Anonim, 2004. Law no 11/2004 on Water Resources, Government of Indonesia.

2. Anonim, 2008. Government Regulation no 42/2008 on Water Resources Management,
Government of Indonesia.
3. Anshori, Imam, 2005. Basin Water Resources Management and Organization in

NARBO Training Workshop in River Basin Management and

Organizations for Mid-career Water Professionals from South Asia, Colombo

4. Custodio, Dennis Von and Wouter Lincklaen Arriens, 2005. Understanding Water
Rights and Water Allocation, A Background Paper. 1st NARBO Thematic Workshop
on Water Rights and Water Allocation, Hanoi, Viet Nam
5. Directorate General of Water Resources, 2005. Socialization and Dissemination of
Water Law 2004, Ministry of Public Works.
6. Hatmoko, W., 1998. Simulation Model for Water Allocation using Lotus-123,
Proceeding The Tenth Afro-Asian Regional Conference, ICID, Bali, 19 - 24 July 1998.
7. Hatmoko, W. 2006. Modeling of Real-Time Water Allocation Planning in Indonesia,
ICID Proceeding of the 3rd Asian Regional Conference, Kuala Lumpur.
8. Sudarsono. 2009. The Bengawan Solo Water Council - providing insight and
directions. CRBOM Small Publications Series No. 5, Surakarta.
9. Raymond Valiant, 2007. Background Paper on Bengawan Solo River Basin, Third
General Meeting of NARBO.