The Citarum River, in West Java, Indonesia, is heavily polluted by human activity; about five million people live in the basin of the river.
This river has an important role in the life of the people of West Java, as it is used to support agriculture, water supply, fishery, industry, sewerage, electricity etc. There are three hydroelectric powerplant dams installed along this river; Saguling, Cirata, and Ir. H. Djuanda (Jatiluhur) hydroelectric powerplants, all supplying the electricity for Bandung and Greater Jakarta area.
Circulating the web
Pictures of this river have been circulating around the web and chain e-mails for the past few years, so we decided do some research into the matter.
- On December 5, 2008, the Asian Development Bank approved a $500 million loan for cleaning up the river, calling it the world’s dirtiest river.
- In 2009, locals could no longer make money out of fishing in the river, and that they had resorted to picking through the trash on the surface to find items that could be sold or traded.
- In 2010, though water was being treated for consumption in the larger town and big cities, it was still being pumped directly (untreated) into the community of Sukamaju. The only filtration available to them is a towel or sock wrapped around a waterspout. The villagers use this water to bath, wash and cook. For drinking, the water is boiled. While this does kill the bacteria, it does not get rid of the heavy metals and toxic chemicals.
- The river is now also being used as a sewerage and garbage dump. Shoes, baby diapers and plastic bottles can be found floating in the water.
What is being done about it?
What has been done to rehabilitate this river since the Asian Development Bank’s loan of $500 million?
In this day and age, with the environmental issues that we are facing on a daily basis, we think that it is important that something as big as this does not go overlooked.
Hopefully this river can be brought back to life soon.
By Lucas Swart