Bali Surf & Sewage

If I were to open a surf shop in Kuta, that’s what I’d call it. Bali Surf & Sewage. I’d sell boards and biohazard surfing suits.

This past week there have been a spate of articles in local and English papers about the polluted state of many of Bali’s popular beaches, including Kuta, Sanur, and Tabanan. No surprise to surfers. Not so long ago, at a couple places in Sanur there were open pipes discharging grey water direct onto the beach. The open pipes are gone, but I think they are just hidden better now.

Kuta in the wet season, when the west monsoon winds are blowing, becomes pretty much unswimmable, not just from spumes of brown-black water welling offshore from waste water outfall pipes but also from all the plastic bags blown onshore from clear across Java. It’s like trying to swim through a mass kill-off of petrochemical jelly fish. River mouth breaks are also suspect after rains. Plenty of surfers have picked up infections.

What’s the solution? Enforcement of laws, for starters. The governor is threatening to come down hard on polluting hotels and resorts, but this is Bali. Good intentions and initial efforts tend to vanish like luggage trolleys at the airport’s arrival hall.

Surf Nusa Dua. Considering its distance from the beach and its sweeping currents, that’s probably the safest and cleanest bet.

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