Introduction

Water is an essential resource for human life. One of the primary sources of water use for society is groundwater. It is water contained in layers of soil or rocks below the ground surface.1 A crucial issue regarding groundwater use is the excessive and uncontrolled use of groundwater, especially in urban areas.

Groundwater overuse is one of the contributing factors to environmental degradation. This reality forced the state to issue the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Decree Number 291.K/GL.01/MEM.G/2023 on Standards for Implementing Groundwater Usage Approvals (“Ministerial Decree 291/2023“) as an instrument for controlling groundwater use activities in order to maintain quality and sustainability of underground water resources.

Discussion

  1. Groundwater Usage Approval
    Ministerial Decree 291/2023 is issued as a control instrument for groundwater use activities in non-commercial activities by mandating the obtaining of a Groundwater Usage Approval for groundwater use in non-commercial activities. The implementation of the Ground Water Approval is carried out by the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources through the Head of the Geological Agency. In general, Ministerial Decree 291/2023 categorizes Groundwater Usage Approvals into two categories according to the usage discharge per second from a single drilled/dug well:

    1. Groundwater Usage Approval for groundwater use discharge of less than or equal to 2 (two) liters per second from 1 (one) drilled/dug well (“Groundwater Usage Approval Type 1”);
    2. Groundwater Usage Approval for groundwater usage discharge of more than 2 (two) liters per second from 1 (one) drilled/dug well (“Groundwater Usage Approval Type 2”).

The obligation to obtain Groundwater Usage Approval applies to individuals, community groups, government agencies, legal entities and social institutions that use groundwater for the following non-commercial activities:

    1. Fulfillment of basic daily needs/household needs
      Groundwater Usage Approval is only required for groundwater use that has reached a usage volume of 100 cubic meters per month per head of family or has exceeded a usage volume of 100 cubic meters per month per group. This means households or groups with groundwater usage volume below 100 cubic meters per month are exempt from the obligation to obtain a Groundwater Usage Approval.
    2. Smallholder agriculture outside the existing irrigation system (use of groundwater for this activity can only be carried out with a Groundwater Usage Approval Type 1);
    3. Other non-commercial activities include:
      1. Tourism or water sports managed for the public interest or non-business activities;
      2. Groundwater utilization for government research and development, education and/or health purposes;
      3. Groundwater utilization for public facilities and social facilities;
      4. Drilled/dug wells aid for group use of groundwater from the government, private sector or individuals; and
      5. Groundwater utilization for government agencies.
  1. Procedures for Submitting Applications for Groundwater Usage Approval
    1. Procedures for Submitting an Application for Groundwater Usage Approval Type 1
      Applications for Groundwater Usage Approval (“Applications”) are submitted to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources via the Head of the Geological Agency at no cost. Then, the Head of the Center for Ground Water and Environmental Geology (“Head of PATGTL“) carries out verification and evaluation of the Application. There are two possible results of verification and evaluation, namely:

      1. The Issuance of a letter of approval for groundwater exploration drilling/digging; or
      2. Rejection of the Application with an explanation of the grounds for rejection.
        If the results of the verification and evaluation provide approval for groundwater exploration drilling/digging, then the drilling/digging must be executed within 60 (sixty) calendar days from the issuance of the approval letter for groundwater exploration drilling/digging. If the drilling/digging is not carried out within 60 (sixty) calendar days as previously explained, then the letter of approval for drilling/digging  is declared void and the applicant may resubmit the Application.The applicant submits a report on the results of the drilling/digging to the Head of the Geological Agency via the Head of PATGTL. The Head of PATGTL subsequently evaluates the report. On behalf of the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Head of the Geological Agency may, in light of the evaluation results:

        1. Determine the Groundwater Usage Approval; or
        2. Reject the application for Groundwater Usage Approval and instruct the applicant to shut the drilled/dug well.
    2. Procedures for Submitting Applications for Groundwater Usage Approval Type 2
      Applications are submitted to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources through the Head of the Geological Agency at no cost. Then, the Head of PATGTL carries out verification and evaluation of the Application. There are two possible results of verification and evaluation, namely:

      1. Issuance of a letter of approval for groundwater exploration drilling/excavation; or
      2. Rejection of the Application with an explanation of the grounds for rejection.If the results of the verification and evaluation provide approval for groundwater exploration drilling/digging, then the drilling/digging must be executed within 60 (sixty) calendar days from the issuance of the approval letter for groundwater exploration drilling/digging. If the drilling/digging is not carried out within 60 (sixty) calendar days as previously explained, then the letter of approval for drilling/digging  is declared void and the applicant may resubmit the Application.

        Regarding the drilling/excavation carried out by the applicant, the Head of the Geological Agency via the Head of PATGTL carries out field verification in the form of supervision of the construction of drilled/dug wells and supervision of pumping test activities, the results of which are stated in the Minutes of Supervision of Drilled/Dug Well Construction and  Pumping Test Activities (“Supervision Minutes”).

        The applicant submits a report on the results of the drilling/digging to the Head of the Geological Agency via the Head of PATGTL, by attaching the Supervision Minutes. The Head of the Geological Agency through the Head of PATGTL then evaluated the report. On behalf of the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Head of the Geological Agency may, in light of the evaluation results:

        1. Determine Groundwater Usage Approval; or
        2. Reject the application for Groundwater Usage Approval and instruct the applicant to shut the drilled/dug well.
  1. Validity Period of Groundwater Usage Approval
    1. Groundwater Usage Approval for the utilization of groundwater for basic daily needs is valid as long as groundwater is still utilized to meet basic daily needs;
    2. Groundwater Usage Approval for the use of water for smallholder agricultural activities outside the existing irrigation system is valid as long as it is still necessary; and
    3. Groundwater Usage Approval for water use for non-commercial activities, other than those mentioned in letters a and b is valid for a maximum period of 7 (seven) years, a request for an extension may be submitted if the allotted period has expired.
  2. Guidance and Supervision
    Guidance and supervision of groundwater utilization is carried out periodically and/or incidentally by the Head of the Geological Agency through the Head of PATGTL to ensure compliance with the provisions in the Groundwater Usage Approval.
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Closing

The provisions on Groundwater Usage Approval for the use of groundwater in non-commercial activities, as regulated by Ministerial Decree 291/2023, serve as a manifestation of the state’s commitment to the implementation of sustainable environmental practices. The Groundwater Usage Approval is intended to be an instrument for controlling groundwater use activities to preserve the quality and sustainability of the environment, particularly underground water resources.

Avaya Ruzha Avicenna

Sources

  1. Article 1 number 4 Law no. 17 of 2019 concerning Water Resources (“ UU 17/2019 ”)