The importance of waste management and fresh water resources: Looking at Indonesia’s Citarum River

Before you read this blog post, you may want to watch this YouTube video on the Citarum River:

We are so lucky to have the fresh water resources and river systems that we do in Ontario. I have been very a long time canoe and kayak fan, however, it’s not just sport that our waterways are important for, they are also important sources of clean drinking water and hydro-electric power.

I recently learned about the Citarum River, which is a very important source of drinking water, crop irrigation, and electricity for 25 million people in Indonesia. However, the Citarum River has the unfortunate status of being the dirtiest river in the world.

The Citarum River, known as the dirtiest river in the world

The river has been used as a garbage dump for untreated wastewater and solid waste from industries and residents. Many of those industries manufacture textiles and clothing that result in the fabric dyes being released into the river. Due to a lack of proper waste management services, it is estimated that 1,500 cubic metres or one tonne of garbage per day ends up in the river system.

As severe as the current situation seems to be for the river, there is hope for improvement. The Citarum Roadmap has been created through consultation with various groups including residents, non-government organizations, industry and various levels of government.  The Roadmap Vision is:

“The Government and community working together for clean, healthy, and productive catchments and rivers, bringing sustainable benefits to all people of the Citarum River Basin.”

The Roadmap is an extensive strategic plan with many components and phases that is to be completed by 2023 at a total cost of $3.5 billion. Phase one is to be implemented from 2009 to 2013 at a cost of US $103.4 million. This will be a huge undertaking by the people and governments of Indonesia with the intended result of empowering communities to better plan and manage their water resources for a sustainable water supply in the future.

When I see the pictures and videos of the Citarum River, I am thankful for the infrastructure we have in place to protect our environment here in Halton — state of the art drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities, and our integrated waste management system that ensures waste is properly collected, treated and disposed.

I am also thankful to everyone who does their part to responsibly manage their waste. Whether it is putting cans, papers and bottles in the Blue Box, putting food scraps in the GreenCart or taking unused household chemicals to the Household Hazardous Waste Depot, every little bit really does count.

About Shirley McLean

I am the Supervisor of Solid Waste Planning at Halton Region. My educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Guelph. My career focus is to work on programs and policies that lessen the environmental impact of waste on our earth.
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4 Responses to The importance of waste management and fresh water resources: Looking at Indonesia’s Citarum River

  1. Pingback: The importance of waste management and fresh water resources … |

  2. The problem of waste management isn’t only in Indonesia. A lot of countries in South East Asia have dirty rivers, including Philippines and Japan among many others.

    I think that the main problem of these countries is proper consciousness. They are aware of their stinking rivers, but they’re not really giving it much thought (their economic conditions are their primary concern).

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  4. Pingback: “What Earth Day means to me” by Christina Stratford | HaltonRecycles

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