West Java, Citarum River

Citarum River

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Citarum (Sundanese: Walungan Citarum) is the longest and largest river in West Java, Indonesia.[1] The river is also the third longest river in Java after Bengawan Solo and Brantas. It 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.

In Indonesian history the river is linked with 4th century Tarumanagara kingdom, as the kingdom and the river shared the same etymology, derived from the word “Tarum” (Sundanese for indigo plant). The earlier 4th century BCE prehistoric Buni clay pottery-making culture flourished near the river’s mouth. According to stone inscriptions and Chinese sources, also the archaeological sites such as Batujaya and Cibuaya, suggested that the human habitation and civilization has flourished in and around the river estuaries and river valley as early as 4th century and even earlier.

Hydroelectric and irrigation dams

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. The waters from these three dams are also used to irrigate vast rice paddies in Karawang and Bekasi area, making northern West Java lowlands as one of the most productive rice farming area in Indonesia.[2]

The Jatiluhur Dam with a 3 billion cubic meter storage capacity has the largest reservoir in Indonesia.[3] The river makes up around 80 per cent of the surface water available to the people who use it and pollution has affected agriculture so much, that farmers have sold their rice paddies for half their normal price.[4]

Pollution

The river is heavily polluted by human activity; about five million people live in the basin of the river.[5][6] Textile factories in Bandung and Cimahi were major toxic waste contributors.[7] More than 2,000 industries contaminate 5,020 sq miles of the river with lead, mercury, arsenic and other toxins.[8]

On December 5, 2008, the Asian Development Bank approved a $500 million loan for cleaning up the river, calling it the world’s dirtiest.[9]

Revitalization

In November 2011, the river revitalization began, with an expected cost of Rp35 trillion ($4 billion) over a time frame of 15 years. The revitalization is occurring from Mount Wayang through 8 regencies and 3 cities for a distance of 180 kilometers . The target for the first 3 years is to pick up 10.5 million cubic meters of sedimentation.[10]

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