The implications of Jakarta’s water crisis hit close to home

Aditi Lappathi, News Editor

Like many cities around the world, Jakarta, the current capital of Indonesia, is sinking. Home to around 10 million people, Jakarta is slowly sinking into the Jakarta Bay. According to Heri Andreas of the Bandung Institute of Technology, the northern part is estimated to be almost fully submerged by 2050.


Jakarta is already prone to sinking, as it is located on aswampy area populated by many rivers., but the rate of submersion is unexpected. Climate change and other factors, like excessive water withdrawal, are accelerating its submersion.


Jakarta’s main water source is groundwater. 


According to PAM Jaya, the company that supplies Jakarta’s tap water, around 40 percent of residents depend on bore water as their main water source, which is pumped through pipes underground.


On top of frequent water extraction from the ground, there are a few regulations on who is able to pump water. When the prices increase, many end up digging their own wells and extracting their own water.


This large amount of water extraction, in addition to the steady sea level rise from climate change, is causing the city to sink quickly. 


Indonesia isn’t the only country with a sinking capital: The U.S has its fair share of sinking cities.


Coastal cities, like island cities, are prone to sinking because of their proximity to the ocean. The coastal city of Miami, Florida, is sinking as well, and at a similar rate to Jakarta.


According to NASA, Miami is six feet above sea level, and according to the chief resilience officer for Miami, Jane Gilbert, the city will sink from between 13 to 34 inches in about 40 years. This is directly caused by the rising sea levels caused by climate change.


While not as fast as Jakarta ー D.C. is projected to sink six inches in the next 100 years ー some of its reasons for sinking are due to climate change.


According to the Washingtonian, Washington D.C. is on a thin ice sheet that was due to melt in the future, but not this soon. In addition, Chesapeake Bay’s water levels are rising, faster than any other on the Atlantic coast, according to the U.S. Geologic study. This rise is due to climate change and the melting of glacial ice caps, and can have implications about water, specifically about the residential usage of it, in the next couple of decades.


Weak regulations, ice sheets from the Ice Age, and climate change all lead to many important cities going under the water. Climate change is one of the only aspects of this problem that everybody can help combat in any way to try to stop the world from sinking.