Water Management in Rural East Indonesia

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



This Master Project investigates the water quality of forty-six villages across four islands in remote East Indonesia. The major objective of this thesis is to test if naturally occurring heavy metal contamination affects the water quality of drinking water, as well as possible groundwater contamination due to infiltration of man-made contaminants into underlying groundwater associated with poor sanitation practices. The study investigated forty-six drinking water sources and analyzed for inorganic chemicals (major and trace elements) and total bacteria counting. The results rule out heavy metal contamination, and yet show groundwater nitrate contamination presumably from poor sanitation. The results of this project can drive decision-making for improved water management in the Nusa Tenggara Timur Province of East Indonesia.

The high rates of child mortality and morbidity in remote and rural areas of East Indonesia are commonly associated with poor water quality, in particular the occurrence of naturally occurring heavy metal contamination in groundwater that is the major drinking water source. To address this, a reverse osmosis and ultra violet-light water treatment facility was purchased in Rote, East Indonesia, and a sustainable business model was designed to provide affordable water, and subsidized water, to the community and ten schools, respectively.

In 2016, six water samples from Rote, East Indonesia were investigated as the first phase of evaluation of the water quality. The samples showed higher levels of nitrate and fluoride; both of which can pose a public health risk. A second fieldwork investigation was conducted in summer 2017, and the collection of forty-six site samples was analyzed for inorganic constituents at Vengosh labs in Duke University. Results revealed low and negligible concentrations of heavy metals in drinking water, but nitrate contamination in some sources. Based on the scientific data, a revised water management model was designed that uses a market-based approach to provide access to water in homes and for agricultural use, as well as improved measure of sanitation practices to stop nitrate inputs into groundwater.





Nicholas-Harper, Megan (2019). Water Management in Rural East Indonesia. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18449.

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.