The Citraum River
Is this the WORLD'S most polluted river?
|There are smiles on their faces yet it’s a river |
being destroyed by their own doing.
Though the dirtiest river on the planet, the Citarum is far from the only polluted river. All too often, rivers are seen as convenient ways to dispose of waste, as they flow away, leaving the problem for someone else. Eventually, though, these decisions come home, affecting everyone along the length of the river.
Situated in West Java, Indonesia, it has an important part to play in the lives of those living in the country. With five out of the nine million people in the population living in the basin of the river, it supports electricity, sewage, agriculture, industry and water supply. There are three hydroelectric power plant dams along the river, which supplies electricity for Greater Jakarta and Bandung. The biggest dam being the Jatiluhur which has a capacity of 2.5 billion cubic metres.
The 269km long river runs through 12 local administrations, however it gets polluted by what it nurtures.The Citarum river basin territory supports a population of 28 million people, delivers 20% of Indonesia’s gross domestic product and provides 80% of the surface water supply to Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta.
What's the Problem?
With no modern sewage system and no rubbish and waste pickups, citizens dispose their waste in the river. Already swollen with rubbish, it just keeps building up, getting worse and worse. Over the past 20 years, rapid urbanisation and industrial growth have meant growing quantities of untreated domestic sewage, solid and industrial waste being dumped in the river.
The waters are packed with this floating mass of waste; however it’s not just what lies on the surface of the water but what lurks beneath. With the equivalent amount of nine million people’s sewage and their industries - that line the 269km length of the river - chemical refuse it could lead to devastating effects in the near future. Research conducted on the Citarum has shown that there are various pollutants such as organic produce and heavy metal substances.
Thanks to the surplus materials floating on the surface, this leads to flooding as flow of the water is slowed by the filth.
You can now hardly even see the Citarum with people now
having to find rubbish to sell for money in
the river that they used to fish in for their living.
In 2008, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded Indonesia with $500 million dollars as part of a loan deal. Christopher Morris, a senior water resources engineer in ADB’s Southeast Asia regional department said: “ADB’s initial assistance will provide safe water supply and sanitation facilities for poor families who currently use water from the polluted canal for bathing, laundry and other uses. It will also allow the cultivation of an additional 25,000 hectares of paddy, benefitting 25,000 farming families.”
What could be done?
In my opinion, there are not many things that can be done because of the extent of the problem. There obviously has to be a clean-up operation put in place where both citizens of the country and others from all over the world pitch in. Industries installed next to the river need to be made aware of the damage they are causing and have to be told that they need to find other ways of disposing their waste. You can’t knock them down all together, that’s the obvious part because then there will be no money coming in; which they need for this operation to forego. Also the people need to become well educated, for free, on the issue as it’s slowly destroying what makes their lives go on.