Farmers Flee Floods but Environmentalists Celebrate

BULELENG

Rising water levels at lakes in Buleleng have forced local residents to flee their homes and destroyed large areas of farmland, but environmental officials say the flooding is a sign of a healthy environment.

Twenty-one families living on the shores of Tamblingan Lake in the Munduk area of the north Bali regency are currently camped out in the nearby forest after their homes were flooded, but with water levels continuing to rise following recent rains, the temporary camps are now also threatened.

One of the affected villagers, Wayan Suada, said most Tamblingan residents were the descendents of people from other parts of Bali who settled around the lake in the 1940s. He said most worked as farmers and ferrying pilgrims to the various Hindu temples around the lake.

Meanwhile, farmers working on the shores of nearby Lake Buyan report that rising water levels have destroyed hundreds of hectares of vegetable plots and strawberry gardens, forcing many one-time agriculturalists to turn to fishing to replace lost income.
Despite the concerns of residents, however, head of the Buleleng Assembly Dewa Nyoman Sukrawan described the flooding around the two lakes as a good omen for Bali’s environment, while speaking to reporters on Saturday. He said it indicated an improvement in the health of surrounding forests, and suggested that many dormant springs and streams had begun to flow once more.

The head of the Buleleng Environment Department, Pasek Swastika, also said that the rising water levels were a cause for celebration.  He said that according to records from previous decades the land affected by the floods had originally been underwater and had only been used for building and agriculture by local residents as levels dropped.

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