Indonesia is a tropical country having at least 5,590 rivers and 65,017 tributaries with a total length of the rivers at around 94,573 km and broad river basins reaching 1,512.466 km2.
Like in many other countries, river is a source of water which has a very important function for the lives and livelihoods of the Indonesian people, among other things for irrigation and drinking water.
The Indonesian Environmental Affairs Ministry last month, however, issued shocking data revealing that 52 strategic rivers in Indonesia`s 33 provinces have been polluted.
"Based on the monitoring data, water pollution has occurred in 52 strategic rivers in the country`s 33 provinces. The water quality monitoring is an effort to save the water," Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Henry Bastaman said in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, in March 2013 when opening a national technical working meeting on river water quality in Indonesia`s 33 provinces.
The ministry has set up 411 monitoring spots in 52 strategic rivers. Based on the 2012 monitoring results, only 0.49 percent of rivers being monitored meet the water quality standard, while 75.25 percent seriously polluted, 22.52 moderately polluted and 1.73 percent slightly polluted.
Water pollution is a serious threat at present and in the future, he stated, adding the country`s water resources are at critical state currently.
"Water scarcity has happened in various regions. Water springs are becoming rare in this tropical nation having high rain precipitation. We have to be cautious about the water issue," he stated.
Most of the polluted rivers are located on Java Island, and the worst polluted include Ciliwung River in Jakarta and Citarum River (West Java).
The Ciliwung river is one of Indonesia`s 10 major rivers that also include Cisadane, Citanduy, Bengawan Solo, Progo, Kampar, Batanghari, Musi, Barito, and Mamasa/Sadang. Citarum River is considered as one of the national strategic rivers.
However, nearly 70 percent of the rivers are polluted. Among factors contributing to river pollution are: changes in land use; population growth; lack of public awareness of river basin conservation; pollution caused by erosion of critical land, industrial waste; household waste; and agricultural waste.
In the Cisadane River, for example, almost 84 percent of pollutants in the river came from domestic waste coming from households, hotels, restaurants and vehicle workshops.
"Based on a research, 84 percent of water in the Cisadane River is polluted by domestic waste," Affandi Permana, the head of the Tangerang environmental affairs office, said late March 2013.
Industrial waste particularly coming from iron and manganese plants constituted 14 percent of the total pollutants in the river, and the remaining two percent was waste from other sources.
The Tangerang city administration has warned that it will close down a factory if it is proven to have polluted the city. Of 100 plants existing in Tangerang city, 63 have been obliged to set up good waste treatment facilities.
"If they violate the regulation, they will be given a sanction," he said.
The already-polluted Cisadane River was hit by an "environmental disaster" recently when a truck carrying 22,000 liters of used lubricating oil leaked.
Due to the leakage, the waste lube oil was scattered along Tangerang highway and flowed into the river.
Almost 80 percent of the surface of the Cisadane River has been polluted by used lubricating oil, according to Deputy Mayor of Tangerang Arief R Wismansyah.
"Based on our field monitoring, almost 80 percent of the surface of the Cisadane River has been covered by waste lubricating oil," Wismansyah on April 12, 2013.
Almost all surface of the 3.2-km river has been covered by the pollutant. The Tangerang city administration will sue those polluting the river with 22,000 liters of used lubricating oil, he said.
"The pollution in the Cisadane River is categorized as a serious one because the used oil in the surface of the river has prevented oxygen from entering into the water," he said.
The Indonesian government has planned to restore 13 major rivers, including the Ciliwung River, which flows through Bogor, Depok (West Java Province) and Jakarta.
"There are 13 rivers that will be restored," said Balthasar Kambuaya, Indonesia`s Environmental Affairs Minister, on December 3, 2012, after signing the agreement on the restoration of the Ciliwung River.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Ciliwung Restoration Project was signed by the Indonesian Environmental Affairs Ministry, the Korean Environmental Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI) and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
The Indonesian government chose South Korea as a partner in the river restoration project because South Korea has managed to clean the Han River which was heavily polluted in the past.
The Ciliwung restoration project will become a turning point for similar river restoration projects throughout the country. "We are focusing on Ciliwung first," said the minister.