The national government is planning to build a plant to convert seawater into drinking water using reverse osmosis technology in Tanjung Pinang, Riau Islands, an official said on Friday.
The plant will have a clean water production capacity of 50 liters per second, said Danny Sutjiono, director for drinking water development at the Public Works Ministry.
“This is estimated to be able to meet the demand for 40,000 customers at a tariff of around Rp 8,000 to Rp 9,000 per cubic meter per second,” Danny said.
Danny said the project was now in the tender phase for construction. He said that he hoped a contract could be signed in October and that construction could start immediately thereafter.
“I hope the project will be operational at the end of 2013,” he added.
Reverse osmosis is expensive. Danny said the investment needed for the Riau Islands project was four times what freshwater projects of a similar scale would cost.
The Public Works Ministry said it would allocate Rp 40 billion ($4.24 million) to build the plant.
The winner of the tender must not only construct the physical facility but also operate the plant and build the necessary distribution pipeline network, Danny said.
“They will have to handle the construction process and the provision of water. All we want is for the seawater to be processed into drinking water and channeled to the houses,” he said.
The ministry has already built one reverse osmosis plant, on Mandangin island in Sampang, East Java, off the coast of the larger Madura island.
That plant has a similar production capacity to that of the proposed Riau Islands facility. After the Mandangin plant is officially inaugurated by Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto in early August, it will serve an estimated 20,000 people.
That plant’s water sells for Rp 12,000 per cubic meter per second, Danny said.