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The Largest Watershed Rescue in East Kalimantan

DAS Mahakam
Discussion Mahakam Watershed Forum Chair Mislan, UGM Geography Faculty Lecturer Nugroho Christanto, and Berau Mahakam Watershed and Protected Forest Evaluation Section Head Selly Oktas Hariany Ayub became resource persons "Discussion of Mahakam Watershed Management Study" in Samarinda, Friday, March 25, 2022. © YKAN

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Data from the Watershed Forum (DAS Mahakam shows that there were 30 flood disasters in all provinces in the period 2020-2021 with more than 80 thousand victims. The affected areas include all districts and cities, including areas affected by planned as the new National Capital Region (IKN). "An important issue that needs attention in the management of water resources in East Kalimantan is the lack of coordination, integration, synchronization and synergy (KISS)," said the Chair of the Watershed Forum (DAS) Mahakam, Mislan, in "Discussion on the Study of Mahakam Watershed Management" in Samarinda, Friday, March 25, 2022.

Mahakam Watershed Forum Chair Mislan, UGM Geography Faculty Lecturer Nugroho Christanto, and Berau Mahakam Watershed and Protected Forest Evaluation Section Head Selly Oktas Hariany Ayub became resource persons "Discussion of Mahakam Watershed Management Study" in Samarinda, Friday, March 25, 2022.
Discussion Mahakam Watershed Forum Chair Mislan, UGM Geography Faculty Lecturer Nugroho Christanto, and Berau Mahakam Watershed and Protected Forest Evaluation Section Head Selly Oktas Hariany Ayub became resource persons "Discussion of Mahakam Watershed Management Study" in Samarinda, Friday, March 25, 2022. © YKAN

A watershed is a land area that becomes an integral part of a river and its tributaries; serves to accommodate, store, and drain water that comes from rainfall to lakes or to the sea naturally. The Mahakam watershed is the largest watershed in East Kalimantan with an area of 7.6 million hectares, the length of the main river is 920 kilometers. The flow covers the areas of Mahulu Regency, West Kutai, East Kutai, Kutai Kartanegara, Samarinda City, and a small part in Malinau Regency, North Kalimantan Province. The catchment area also reaches Central Kalimantan and is thought to be a small part in Sarawak, Malaysia (Mislan and Naniek, 2005). Although it is not included in the 15 priority watersheds that are critical and urgently needed to be restored in Indonesia, the Mahakam watershed has also experienced a decrease in water quality, an increase in critical land, siltation, occurrence of floods and droughts.

"Maintaining the carrying capacity and environmental capacity of the Mahakam watershed is a necessity," said Mislan, who is also a lecturer in the Department of Physics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Mulawarman University. The efforts must cover all aspects, namely land use, water use, socio-economic culture, and institutions. Mahakam watershed management is a shared responsibility and must be implemented in stages, measurably, sustainably with sufficient funding. One of the priorities in this watershed management is the protection and restoration of water catchment areas through a combination of vegetative and civil-technical techniques, control of land use permits, and rehabilitation of watersheds. The priority considerations, according to Mislan, are due to the increasing silting conditions and increasing turbidity in several parts of the Mahakam River, including its lakes.

"Discussion on the Study of Mahakam Watershed Management" which also presented the Head of the Section for Evaluation of the Mahakam Watershed and Protected Forest of Berau Selly Oktas Hariany Ayub as a resource for this discussion was part of the effort to save the Mahakam watershed.

"This activity is expected to provide scientific input on the implementation of policies and plans for managing water resources in the future, according to the development of environmental support and capacity," said Senior Manager of Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara, Niel Makinuddin.

Head of the Berau Mahakam Watershed Management Center and Protected Forest, Rintan Nilaywati, said that watershed management and restoration of critical land did not necessarily solve the Mahakam watershed issue. "Institutional aspects (institutional behavior) are the main problems in watershed management," he said. The institutional aspect is important, because the watershed landscape is cross-administrative (watershed boundaries do not correspond to administrative boundaries) and cross-disciplinary. He added that no single institution has full authority in managing the watershed from upstream to downstream. "The coherence of the institutional system can create integration in watershed management," he stressed.

The existence of new National Capital Region (IKN) in East Kalimantan Province will encourage accelerated development, which will impact on the increase in population. If it is not accompanied by appropriate water resources management policies, it can lead to a decrease in the carrying capacity of water resources in the IKN area or its buffer zone. In the context of this Mahakam watershed, YKAN is involved in scientific analysis and updating of previous studies that can be input for the management of the Mahakam watershed.

Anticipating the suitability of carrying capacity needs to be taken seriously, considering that people in East Kalimantan Province are very dependent on surface/river water. Geological conditions that are dominated by clay make it difficult to get groundwater resources from aquifers and groundwater quality tends to be acidic. However, it is not impossible for East Kalimantan to manage its water resources in a sustainable manner by cooperating with all stakeholders as part of implementing green development steps.

Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) is a scientific-based non-profit organization that has been present in Indonesia since 2014. With the mission of protecting lands and waters as life support systems, we provide innovative solutions to realize the harmony of nature and humans through effective natural resource management, prioritizing a non-confrontational approach, and building a network of partnerships with all stakeholders for a sustainable Indonesia. For more information, visit ykan.or.id.