Rivers of the World, largest and most polluted bodies of water



SURFACE POLLUTION - This is the kind of waste that SeaVax will cope with well when configured for rivers. The idea is to scoop up as much of the solids as possible to prevent it reaching the open oceans. Prevention is better than cure.



Citarum (Sundanese: Walungan Citarum) is the longest, largest and dirtiest river in West Java, Indonesia. It 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 supports agriculture, water supply, fishery, industry, sewerage, electricity, etc.


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

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

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


There are three hydroelectric powerplant dams installed along the Citarum: Saguling, Cirata, and Ir. H. Djuanda (Jatiluhur), all supplying the electricity for the Bandung and Greater Jakarta areas. The waters from these 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 areas.

The Jatiluhur Dam with a 3 billion cubic meter storage capacity has the largest reservoir in Indonesia.

The river makes up around 80 percent of the surface water available to the people who use it. Pollution has affected agriculture so much that farmers have sold their rice paddies for half their normal price.







The Citarum River and its tributaries in Indonesia's West Java are a vitally important water supply for both the city of Bandung and the greater Jakarta region, home to 25 million people. Its waters irrigate farms providing around 5% of the nation’s rice and feed more than 2,000 factories on its banks.

But today, fishermen in boats on the basin’s rivers are more likely to be foraging for garbage to sell, as the fish have long gone. Over the past 20 years, water quality in the Citarum region has been decreasing rapidly as pollution squeezes the life from the waterways. Every day thousands of tons of household garbage and untreated industrial waste contribute to this enormous drifting mass of rubbish, completely obscuring the river in many places.

The toxic waste kills the rivers, fosters disease, and clogs hydroelectric turbines. The environmental damage also leads to regular flooding in cities such as Bandung, caused by deforestation and drains blocked with garbage.






In 2008, ADB committed to provide Indonesia with a $500 million, multiyear loan to finance a wide-ranging cleanup and rehabilitation plan for the Citarum River basin. The money is being used to clean the Citarum River and the West Tarum Canal, which connects it to Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. The city gets 80% of its water supply from the river.

In Bekasi, a city in greater of Jakarta, ADB has helped finance a major engineering project to keep the canal water clean on its journey to the capital by running it beneath the Bekasi River, one of the most polluted in the Citarum region.

“Because of the siphon, the water from the West Tarum Canal is now separate from the Bekasi River, which is so badly polluted. The aim of this project is to improve water quality as demand for water in Jakarta grows,” says Tatang Suhartono of Bekasi’s Public Works Department. The Bekasi Siphon cost $1.8 million, of which ADB contributed 80%. However, trying to keep Jakarta’s drinking water separate from septic rivers is only a stop gap. The long-term solution is cleaning up Citarum’s rivers for good - a far harder challenge. Inroads have been made in reducing industrial waste being pumped into rivers, but weak enforcement of anti-dumping laws mean little has been done to reduce the vast amount of household and industrial waste poisoning the waterways.

Pius Suratman Kartasasmita of the Parahyangan Catholic University has worked with communities along the rivers in Bantar Caringin for nearly 2 decades. He has seen the water quality deteriorate markedly and children die of diarrhea from river water. “We cannot successfully enforce the laws against dumping trash into the water without educating people as to why this is wrong and about the importance of a clean and healthy river.”






Rolling out education at village level to change entrenched cultural practices, although successful, is only part of the story. Providing local groups with incentives to form businesses that turn trash to cash is equally important, observers say. ADB has partnered with local government and the Ministry of Health to support a community initiative that combines both in the village of Karang Linggar in the district of Karawang.

“Now we earn a good income from recycling not only our own rubbish but the huge amount that can be salvaged daily from the rivers around here. I have enough money from it to ensure the family eats better and my two children can now attend school.”

- Entus Sutsisna, one of the recyclers

Karawang village head, Eneng Komoriah, remembers life before the project. “Before the recycling started, people had no place to dump, so they used the river. That has all changed. People are now aware of the economic and environmental value of recycling trash.” The project has been operating for more than a year and directly employs eight people. The village plans to expand its recycling business and hire more people.

“Now we earn a good income from recycling not only our own rubbish but the huge amount that can be salvaged daily from the rivers around here. I have enough money from it to ensure the family eats better and my two children can now attend school,” says Entus Sutsisna, one of the recyclers, as he shoveled mounds of dirty plastic bags into a noisy shredder in Karawang’s new trash processing workshop.

Some recyclers are doing more than just selling trash fished from the rivers. Indra Darmawan’s Bangkit Bersama recycling company at Bantar Caringin harvests more than 35 tons of trash a month from the heavily soiled river that meanders by his premises. Dealing with the mountains of Styrofoam floating by means of innovation is called for.

“I have developed a mixture of dried water hyacinth, natural glue, and Styrofoam that can be flattened out into boards or even turned into bricks for use in construction,” Indra says. He points to a new shed used for sorting trash. Closer examination shows it’s entirely built from the hybrid material. Plans include turning parts of the river bank into an ecotourism destination.

Recycling and education projects are springing up across the region as the central and local authorities partner with communities to promote the economic and health potential of cleaning up Citarum. There’s a long way to go, but the hope is Citarum will become a model of sustainable water management, rather than being home to some of the world’s most polluted rivers.






Forty miles east of Jakarta, Indonesia, the river Citarum runs over 186 miles from the Wayang Mountain to the Java Sea.

The island’s largest river supports more than 30 million residents who rely on the water source for agricultural, domestic and personal use.

However, unregulated factory growth since the area’s rapid industrialisation in the 1980s has choked the Citarum with both human and industrial waste. The river, now known as one of the most polluted in the world, is unrecognisable as part of the Parahyangan region.

Over 200 textile factories line the river banks. The dyes and chemicals used in the industrial process - lead, arsenic and mercury amongst them - are churned into the water, changing its colour and lending the area an acrid odour.

Plastic, packaging, and other detritus floats in the scummy water, rendering the river’s surface invisible beneath its carpet of junk. 

The effect on the local ecosystem has been devastating. Fish float dead on the surface of the water, and local fishermen have turned to entrepreneurial methods of survival, picking up plastic from the water for recycling.

The river was the subject of Channel 4's Unreported World. 







Let us not forget that in the fight against ocean pollution, it is the pollution from rivers that is discharged into the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Oceans that is potentially the most harmful is left unchecked. Hence, the most wanted list of river authorities who need to think hard on cleaning up their act as the starting point for cleaner oceans:


1. Citarum River, Indonesia - The Citarum River is known as the most polluted river in the world and is located in West Java, Indonesia.


2. Ganges River, India - The Ganges River is considered the most sacred river in India by the Hindus. It is the third largest river in the world and it is believed that its water can cleanse the sins of people.


3. Mantanza-Riachuelo River, Argentina - The river is located in the Buenos Aires Province of central-eastern Argentina and is more than 60 kms long. The river is also known as Slaughterhouse River.


4. Buriganga River, Bangladesh - Buriganga is also known as the Old Ganges in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries around the world and is right now suffering from every kind of pollution that exists.


5. Yamuna River, India - The river is crystal clear and blue near its source in the Himalayas but as the river flows down the water becomes extremely polluted with sewage, industrial garbage, agricultural run- off etc.


6. Jordan River, Israel - The Jordan River originates from the Anti-Lebanon and Mount Hermon mountain ranges covers a distance of 223 km. The river has severely deteriorated especially the lower reaches of Jordan are full of untreated sewage and contaminated water flowing from agricultural lands.


7. Yellow River, China - The Yellow River of China is drying up fast due to expansion of factories, cities, agricultural farms etc. and whatever water is left is contaminated badly. The water is so toxic that it is not fit for agriculture.


8. Marilao River, Philippines - The Marilao River flows through the Bulacan Province Philippines and empties in Manila Bay. The main sources for polluting this river are tanneries, textile factories, piggeries, gold refineries and municipal dumps.


9. Sarno River, Italy - The Sarno River is one of the most polluted rivers in Europe. It flows in southern Italy near Pompeii and Naples. In recent years many cases of liver cancer have been reported which shows the level of degradation of the river.


10. Mississippi River, USA - The Mississippi River in USA is also known as the ‘Big Muddy’ as the water of this river is usually brown because of pollution. Crude oil spills reported in the river which has made the water toxic and is poisonous to the marine life. The river is a sewer for farmers and industrialists making it one of the most polluted rivers in the world.


11. Cuyahoga River, USA - The Cuyahoga River flows through Cleveland, Ohio and is known for having caught fire many times. The river is completely choked with oil, sludge, sewage and debris.


12. Pasig River, Philippines - The Pasig river is a 27 km long river in Philippines which passes from west of Laguna de Bay and moves downstream to east of Manila Bay. This river is termed biologically dead.


River Ganges Aarti ceremony, ritual bathing


RIVER CEREMONY - At the aarti ceremony, the clouds of smoke transform into small balls of fire and singers praise Shiva, the Destroyer. The water really is pleasant, warm and soft with a light slippery feel from the pollution. A boatman says he thinks the water is clean though brown like chai tea from the mud. After the monsoon the silt settles down. Many think that the mud neutralizes the river’s harmful impurities. These include human ashes, expired livestock, and the anchored bodies of lost children.





The only significant advantage to using SeaVax as a platform to develop a river cleaning solution, is that the vessel is powered by over 80kW of energy harvested from nature. This is important, because if the craft can be converted to clean effluent and metals from river water (not on the agenda at the moment, but we are willing to undertake studies if properly underpinned) whatever assistance that may provide is sustainable in energy terms, in a circular economy.


The most obvious hurdle in defining any kind of assistance to the beleaguered nations in this case is: How do you treat a billion liters of water divided into hundreds of locations. It looks as though the problem is insurmountable. But is it?


1. The first thing is to consider is to deploy several dozen ocean dustcarts to deal with surface litter that would otherwise find its way into the open ocean and feed the 5 main Gyres. This is not only doable but a must.


2. The second is to decide whether to deploy SeaVax oil spill boats to rivers that are known to be oil toxic.


3. The third is to undertake a feasibility study as to the possibility of modifying SeaVax units to deal with industrial waste and sewage at selected points of discharge. The issue here is likely to be volume where sedimentation tanks would need to be voluminous and SeaVax is a mobile solution. If deployed at known discharge points, that may negate the volume issue to some extent.




PROOF OF CONCEPT MILL & SINGLE STAGE FILTRATION - In this photograph you can see the experimental motorised mill head and hydro-cyclonic filtration chambers of the SeaVax test boat under construction. The full size version of this is 14 metres (44 feet) wide and includes two more stages of filtration that we cannot show here due to patent laws prohibiting publication before grant. This unit showed us what was possible and what to develop next. Nobody else anywhere in the world is developing such a system.














IB Times India million litres untreated sewage polluting holy river ganga says report

Inspired Economist 2015/01/14 India uses zero liquid discharge technology for Ganges river

Haaretz Israel Ganga pollution news science

Central Pollution Control Board of India

listaka top 12 most polluted rivers in the world

Hubpages politics what are the 10 Most Polluted Rivers in the World

Listdose top 10 polluted rivers world

Austro Indonesian Arts Program blog most polluted river in the world Citarum

The Guardian environment 2014 January 2 plastic waste river Thames marine life report

Wikipedia Citarum_River

Telegraph UK news 2014 Citarum the most polluted river in the world

Asian Development Bank cleaning Indonesias Citarum basin







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