Restoring an Ancient Balance with a Modern Solution

For many, a mention of the island of Bali calls up images of people playing in the pounding surf, bathing in waterfalls surrounded by verdant jungle, and farmers tending to intricate rice terraces. These images describe a traditional paradise, where the healthy relationship between the island’s more than four million inhabitants and the natural resources around them provides a balanced life of plenty. We at Fivelements are inspired by these images that we see daily but, increasingly, we are also alarmed by a more complex modern reality on the paradise island.

Looking at water specifically, we see a culture reknowned for its ingenious management of fresh water for irrigation, aquaculture, and for luxurious water gardens. The keys to the success of this traditional system are the renewable nature of the resource and the egalitarian method of distribution. For centuries the natural holding tanks of volcanic lakes and underground aquifers have stored monsoon rains for use in drier months and the unparalleled traditional Subak system has distributed this water fairly across the island. This ancient system is still in operation but available water resources are now increasingly also used by less regulated and often thirstier private wells.

The simple fact is that today, we on Bali are currently pulling more water out of the ground than the rains are able to replace. If left unchecked this imbalance will allow saltwater to intrude into coastal wells and leave the many inhabitants of Bali that rely on shallow dug wells without water for a significant part of the year. The solution is not only to reduce the amount of water that we use but to increase the amount of rainwater going back into the ground. In working towards this goal under our Social Program theme of “Water is Life”, Fivelements is proud to be partnering with Yayasan IDEP and the Bali Water Protection Program to create a Pilot Recharge Well at the IDEP demonstration site.

At Fivelements we are inspired by traditional culture and informed by innovative thinking. We see the use of this simple technology as an ideal method for restoring an ancient balance using modern tools.

By Gove DePuy  

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