Bali’s most famous lake, Lake Batur, sits beneath the gaze of the majestic volcano Mount Batur and is overlooked by the shadows of Mount Agung and Mount Abang.
The lake does not only hold great spiritual significance to Balinese Hindus and is one of the most popular natural landmarks on the island for tourists, but it is a vital freshwater source to the whole of Bali.
Conservationists and environmentalists are speaking up about the high levels of pollution in the lake. The lake spans over 16 square kilometers and is known locally as the Water Tower of Bali.
The level of pollutants pouring into the lake from the surrounding subak irrigation channels and the prolonged dry season leading to drought is causing compounded negative impacts on Lake Batur.
Professor of Agriculture at Udayang University, Prof Ni Luh Karitini, has told reporters that 85% of the damage caused to the lake’s water quality is from agricultural waste and runoff, while 15% comes from the fishing cages in the lake and other household wastewater.
Lake Batur slopes to the west and feeds the irrigation systems that support Gianyar, home to the tourist resort of Ubud, as well as Klungkung Regency and Bangli.
There are at least 330 subak, traditional irrigation systems, that are supplied by Lake Batur, meaning this level of pollution in the last is having a direct impact on tens of thousands of residents and tourists, too.
Water that flows from Lake Batur feeds into the stream, rivers, and subak systems that interconnect across the island and flow into some of Bali’s most famous waterfalls, where tourists bathe and swim.
In rural villages, it is still common for local communities, especially the older generations, to bathe in the subak channels that flow through the boundaries between farmland and village.
Over the last few months, bio-enzymes have been poured into Lake Batur to help rebalance the water quality, but according to Prof Karitni, more needs to be done in the waters and in the surrounding landscapes.
Prof Kartini is calling for a consistent and strict spatial planning system by the local government to better manage agricultural land and villages.
He wants to see a moratorium in place that strictly governs the development and maintenance of existing agricultural and residential landscapes.
@scroll.klb Bali lakes are underrated 🙄 For the first time ever, I went down to Batur lake. All this time I only got to enjoy the mountainous view of Kintamani, but never been to Batur lake. The nice view of Batur lake surrounded by mount Abang & mount Batur view is 🧑🍳💋 This is just one of the 3 lakes in Bali, this island is really something #lakebatur #balilivin #kintamani ♬ I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me – Artie Shaw & His Orchestra
The agricultural land surrounding Lake Batur is some of the most profitable and fertile land in Bali. The Kintamani area is famous around the world for its coffee and citrus production.
While some farmers are still managing crops in a traditional, organic way, most have converted to intensive farming methods, and the consequences are clear to see on the surrounding landscape.
It remains to be seen if Prof. Kartini’s pleas for better land management will be honored. To the untrained eye, Lake Batur still looks just as beautiful as ever.
Though the sediment levels are higher than normal and the drought has lowered the waterline, the views from the hills and mountains of Kintamani over the lake are utterly beautiful.
One of the best ways to enjoy the view of the lake and the mountains in Kintamani is at the Batur Hot Springs.
The natural hot pools are fed by an underground aquifer, and the water is mineral-rich and proven to have heaps of health benefits.
The Batur Natural Hot Springs are one of the highlights of a visit to Kintamani. Tourists are reminded that tickets can only be paid for in cash but include unlimited day access to the pools and a locker.
Many tourists also hire kayaks and rowing boats to explore the lake and admire the view of Pura Segara Ulun Danu Batur from a different angle.
Kintamani is a destination that many tourists feel is only achievable on a day trip from resorts like Ubud. Yet, with so much to explore, it’s certainly worth staying a few nights in the area.
Lake Batur is a popular glamping spot, and there are dozens of boutique glamping sites around the lakeside. It’s a great spot for stargazing too!
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