The Citarum River, made of 75 springs downstream to 7 rivers and combined in one Citarum river. Situ Cisanti or lake Cisanti is one of the 7 spring lake that flows into Citarum. This river also use as powering Indonesia Power’s power plan in Saguling dam. The citizen along the 7 sub river of Citarum are also benefit from Citarum, as irrigation for farmer’s rice field.
Nowadays, Citarum is much different from the past. it is filled with floating plastic thrashes and accumulating 250+ factories’ waste along its 80 kilometers river bodies. The factory building revolutions started in the 90s where they bought land to be converted to factory sites. There are more than 250 factories along the river a of today. They are mostly are textile and garment factory. The decision for having factory along the river is for easier and cheaper channeling production waste, that in liquid form, to Citarum River. These factories serving world brand such as Levi’s GAP, Adidas and several other worldwide industry.
Citarum is the one who hold all the burden in her stream. Act as collecting river from sub 7 river (Cikijing, Cisunggala, Cikapundung, 4, 5 ,6 ,7) flowing down thru the Majalaya and Selokan Jeruk industrial area, and still feeding the rice field irrigation to the estuaries when it met the sea at city of Bekasi near Jakarta. Citarum riverbank industrialization make a lot of changes of people who live in the river banks. There are thousands of workers working to the factory, production logistic and coals deliveries powering every industy, showing the scale of industrial needs in this area. At the end people are converting from farmers to factory workers.
The waste of these factories in a whopping number, flowing freely to Citarum river, untreated or half treated, or fully treated. Combined to a dark, smelly water of Citarum flowing served as rice farming irrigation along the way.
Abah Curug Jompong lives in a part of Citarum, in Curug Jompong for almost his entire life. He make his living on collecting plastic thrash in Curug Jompong (Curug mean waterfall, and located in Jompong area). Curug Jompong is a part of Citarum river, with some waterfall oxidation to water and strong turn current create a small round corner corner that collect all the garbage.
In his childhood, Abah Curug Jompong swims and fish at Citarum river that just a steps a way from his home. His son also experienced the joy of Citarum river on his period of 80s.
Starting 90s, industrialization changes the face of citarum. Turn the healthy water with dark, smelly and foamy water. Added the damage with the consumption behavior changes of the people in Bandung (that also crossed by Cikapundung river (one of the river contributed to Citarum) making the river the big thrash can for plastic bottles and domestic thrash.
People live in the river banks of Citarum are taking the steps that changes his life to collecting these huge amount of thrash to a living. Collected tonnes of thrashes and resell as recycled plastic. The most garbage he can collected is when the rain season started, on end September to the March each year. Described that they an even cross the river just walking above the water stepping on the plastic thrashes. The rain water streams down and carry all the thrashes.
In the upper stream than Curug Jompong, Pak Uban farming his 2,5 hectares rice field just in front of his simple house. Before polluted Abah can harvest 6 to 7 tonnes of rice per hectares (1 hectares = 10,000 sqm), then lately he can only harvest 600-700 kilograms per hectares, that is 1/10th of normal result. Last year, he assisted with micro organic fertilizer with hopes to bring back his rice field production. That was increased to 5 tonnes rice per hectare using the same polluted water of Cikijing river as irrigation (sub river of Citarum). Effectiveness of this micro biological is decreased by time, he now expecting to a 600 kilograms of rice per hectares this August 2018 harvest. The rice field also showing anomaly growth. Uneven growth, less rice produced per hecatare and white-ish land clearly visible in his land.
The government is trying to fix this issue, locals assisted by the NGO. This very NGO sue the company for untreated waste spilled to Citarum. They factory lost in the court and now ordered to operate their waste treatment plan. Thing that they never used before due to the cost for running the plan. The monthly chemical cost more than US$300,000 per month in one waste treatment plan. One of the company that lost in court now open to the journalist to visit their waster water treatment plan for this improvement.
Mr Sunardi, Post doctoral graduate on toxic water, has tested and learned Citarum pollution found that the river still containing polluted and under the standard water treatment. He backed up his opinion by the Citarum’s water laboratory test. The government also assigning army to guard, watch, and cleaning the river. Which now making a progress changes of the Citarum river, though the river still containing waste water from the factory causing the water foamy and smelly.
When rain seasons starts, the season that Abah Curug Jompong long await, Citarum will carry plastic thrashes those are his daily bread of living.