Many Rivers Are Polluted, Ecoton Conducts Indonesian River Expedition

Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (ECOTON) is holding the Nusantara River Expedition for the next ten months, which detects the health of rivers in 68 rivers in Indonesia. The results of the report from the detection of river health will be used as input for the government to pay more attention to the quality of rivers in Indonesia.

The Nusantara River Expedition, which was initiated by ECOTON, targeted 68 rivers in a number of cities in Indonesia. They studied the health of rivers through water insects, microplastic content, and pollutants in the water. The activity, which will last for the next ten months, invites various communities who care about the environment, school students, and various elements who want better river water quality.

ECOTON’s Executive Director, Prigi Arisandi, said that the Nusantara River Expedition wanted to know the level of pollution in river water, which can be seen from the presence of water insects as an indicator of pollution.

“It will detect the health of the river, so with insects our water will be heavily polluted, lightly polluted, moderately polluted, or not polluted,” he explained.

Brand audit of plastic waste products in rivers, evidence of microplastics polluting river water (VOA/Petrus Riski)

Brand audit of plastic waste products in rivers, evidence of microplastics polluting river water (VOA/Petrus Riski)

The Nusantara River expedition began at the Gogor River, in Wonosalam, Jombang Regency, East Java, and was attended by a number of students who were members of the “Water Police” of SMP Negeri 1 Wonosalam.

The “Water Police” is tasked with detecting the level of pollution in rivers, by searching for and recording water insects found in rivers. The assistant of the “Water Police” of SMP Negeri 1 Wonosalam, Arum Wismaningsih, said the presence of certain insects or water biota in large numbers can be an indicator of clean or polluted river water.

“At a minimum, I usually find around 20 types. Well, most of the variants are more sensitive to pollution. This means that the river is still clean,” explained Arum Wismaningsih.

In addition to conducting a water insect census, the “Water Police” of SMP Negeri 1 Wonosalam also conducted a survey brand audit towards plastic packaging that pollutes rivers, which are one of the sources of microplastic pollution in water. Chelsea Florensia Cantika Putri, one of the “Water Police”, hopes that people will no longer use rivers as garbage dumps, because they can cause environmental damage, cause disease, and disrupt the lives of other living things.

Ecoton researchers examining microplastics in river water, under a microscope (VOA/Petrus Riski-)

Ecoton researchers examining microplastics in river water, under a microscope (VOA/Petrus Riski-)

“Don’t throw garbage into the river, because it’s a pity for the living creatures in it. It’s a pity for those who drink river water, bathe in river water, it’s possible for the bacteria to reach the body, making their health sick, sorry for those who take advantage of the river,” he explained.

84 Percent of Drinking Water Raw Materials Come from Rivers

Rivers are a source of life for many creatures, including a source of drinking water for people in most parts of Indonesia. Prigi Arisandi said that about 84 percent of the raw material for drinking water for the community, especially in Java, comes from rivers. However, Prigi said that around 70 to 80 percent of rivers in Indonesia are in a damaged condition. This, said Prigi, is due to the heavy burden of the river which has to accommodate various household and industrial wastes, but there is no government action to protect the river.

Installation of gates from plastic bottles, consumptive behavior produces plastic waste that is difficult to decompose in nature.  (VOA/Petrus Riski)

Installation of gates from plastic bottles, consumptive behavior produces plastic waste that is difficult to decompose in nature. (VOA/Petrus Riski)

Prigi hopes that the Nusantara River Expedition, which will be carried out this year, will become an input and policy basis for the government in the future, so that the development carried out remains oriented towards environmental safety.

“So, in 2022 we will take inventory, report, invite many people to get to know the river, 2023 we will announce through films, there will be documentary films, we will write books, we will also form 68 river communities. So, we will report this later together. We hope that our leaders will have insight into rivers. So, we hope that in 2024, our President will have an orientation to save rivers in carrying out development,” Prigi explained. [pr/em]