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Jakarta Plans Massive Project to Keep Sea at Bay
November 23, 2014

The Indonesian Government has announced a multi-billion-dollar project designed to offset a projected rise in sea levels that would otherwise decimate the capital city of Jakarta, home to nearly 10 million people.

Jakarta has 40 percent of land lying below sea level to begin with, and the city is sinking by as much as six inches each year, from a combination of causes. Sea levels are rising globally and are affecting other cities and nations as well. Jakarta, however, has a combination of natural and manmade factors that are putting increasing pressure on the city's landscape. The city is on a low fat basin in the Jakarta Bay, at the Ciliwung River mouth. The soil is soft clay, and the river floods regularly during monsoon season. As well, city officials have been drilling more and more boreholes to claim drinking water for the city's large population. Estimates are that, if no changes are made, much of the city will be underwater by 2030.

The project announced by the government will strengthen the existing sea wall, which was breached by a flood for the first time in 2007. That's the simple part. The more complicated part is the construction of a large shield, in the form of a new wall and nearly two dozen artificial islands (see illustration). The additions are designed to form the shape of the Garuda, a mythical bird that is a symbol of the entire country.

The construction will include a reservoir, designed to absorb monsoon-generated river runoff. This part of the plan is estimated to take more than a decade. Total cost is estimated at US$40 billion.

Project plans also call for the addition of large amounts of new water pipes, to cut down the number of boreholes, thereby lessening the impact on the clay soil.

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