Waste for Water: Creating A Community-Led Water Desalination Business to Provide Clean Drinking Water

We are developing a community-run solar-powered seawater desalination plant to provide affordable drinking water for coastal communities in Nusa Penida that will offer a waste-for-water payment system.

Project Type

  • Lean Experimentation


Water is the most basic human need. Through Law 17/2019, the Government of Indonesia guarantees all citizens the right to sufficient amounts of safe and affordable water.

Many Indonesians still lack access to clean water. In Bali, access to water is increasingly challenging primarily due to the rapid growth of the tourism industry. The construction of thousands of hotels has accelerated water scarcity and made water access more difficult for many communities.

Located off the southeast coast of Bali, Nusa Penida island is among the driest regions in the province (Meteorological, Climatological, and Geophysical Agency 2019). While piped water is available in some locations, its coverage is limited and often during the dry season, the water does not reach certain areas.

To fulfill their water needs, people in Nusa Penida collect rainwater, however, this method is not always reliable given infrequent rainfall. Due to these challenges, an alternative water solution is needed in Nusa Penida to provide affordable and regular access to clean water for the coastal communities.


One solution to water scarcity for coastal communities is desalination, a method of removing salt from seawater to obtain fresh water. As the technology continues to advance and become more affordable it has become a promising solution for the provision of affordable drinking water.

The project will provide affordable drinking water access for coastal communities through a locally administered solar-powered desalination plant. We will install a community-run desalination facility in Nusa Penida, Bali that will offer a waste-for-water payment system. Customers will be able to obtain drinking water by exchanging it with recyclable waste, such as plastic bottles, cardboard, paper, and also through cash payment.

We will work closely with a local waste bank to implement the alternative payment system and will engage the local community -- particularly women, who are disproportionately affected by the lack of access to water in Nusa Penida -- in our project design.

The desalination plant will convert sea and brackish water into fresh water through a reverse osmosis process.

We will work with the village-owned enterprise (BUMDes), and provide training to manage and maintain the facility. By engaging the village-owned enterprise, the sustainability of the facility will be ensured. 


By providing an alternative source of potable water, this project will help to address the water needs of the community in Nusa Penida as well as reduce the water shortages on the island. By localizing water supply, the project will also reduce the emissions related to transporting water to villages in Nusa Penida. Currently, supplies of water gallons are transported to the island by sea and require additional land transportation at both ends of the journey.

The immediate result of this project is to provide access to sufficient, affordable clean drinking water for 500 households to meet their daily water needs.

We will develop a framework for community-managed water desalination systems, which could potentially be replicated to other coastal villages in Indonesia.

Show Project Location


Based on the lab results, we found that the water from the desalination technology reached the TDS level of 138.6 mg/ L, meeting the government’s standard of TDS maximum level of 500 mg/L. The technology has fully removed the brackish taste of the water. l. The water hardness level was significantly reduced from 1,824 mg/L to 1.92 mg/L, meeting the government’s standard of 500 mg/L. The chloride level was also lowered from 5,4449.15 mg/L to 80.06 mg/L, within the government's standard of 250 mg/L. Meanwhile, the pH level was reduced to 5.8, - which is below the standard pH level range of 6.5-8.5. Wujudkan! Indonesia, our technology provider, explained that this may be caused by substances left from the adhesive material on the piping system. The pH level is expected to rise gradually as the intensity of machine operation increases in which case it will be within the accepted range. A follow-up test after eight months of the operation of the system found that the thepH level had risen to 6.45, much closer to the required standard.

The performance of the desalination technology using the 4-step filtration system was able to turn brackish well water into clean drinking water that met most of the key government standards except for pH level.

The upfront investment to build a water desalination facility costs US 11,853 or IDR 170 million with a production capacity of 1,800 litres per day. The technology is able to fulfil the daily water needs of 60 households (based on the standard quantity recommended by WHO of 7.5 litres drinking water per capita per day). The water desalination technology and the technicians required to install it were sourced from outside Bali, increasing the cost of installation.

For more information on results and findings of this project, visit our Solutions Catalog


In this experiment, we found that the treatment of water desalination technology using sediment filtration, softener, reverse osmosis, and UV steriliser was capable of converting brackish well water into clean drinking water that can be an alternative source of drinking water for the local community in Suana village, Nusa Penida.



Solution & Project Implementation

Costs associated with the purchase of the solutions tested and project coordination


Monitoring & Evaluation

Costs associated with data collection, analysis and reporting


Administration Fee

Cost contribution to Kopernik's operational costs


Total $32,640

This project is implemented by Yayasan Kopernik on behalf of our partner who provided grant funding for this project.