There have been efforts to clean up the Citarum river over the past 30 years.
- In 1989, a governmental program called Program Kali Bersih (PROKASIH) aimed at ‘[improving] water quality by reducing emissions from the most important sources of water pollution in Indonesia’. They attempted to do so by rigorously installing wastewater treatment facilities and communal domestic treatment plants. However, according to Greenpeace, despite the claims that wastewater discharges have reduced, the water quality has not shown any improvement and even deteriorated.
- In 2003, the National Policy on Clean Production was established as an avenue for both ‘central and regional governments to supervise and develop the Clean Production program’ and to ‘encourage stakeholders to implement the 5R (Re-think, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recovery) principles’. However, the successes thus far has only concerned energy saving and had little impact on reducing the use of chemicals in the textile industry.
- In 2007, the government prepared an integrated recovery program called the Integrated Citarum Water Resources Management Investment Program (ICWRMIP). The program aimed at improving water quality and water resource management through various platforms such as capacity building and water rights strengthening. This is still in operation but with very little effect as the Citarum river condition worsens.
- In 2009, Asian Development Bank provided a loan of USD$500 million on top of the local effort of USD$3.5 billion to restore the river, and to provide safe and clean water supplies and sanitation facilities to families. However, the Citarum river has yet to meet the water quality standards set by the Indonesian government back in 1989, despite the promising amount of money dedicated to the project.
- Local community organizations such as Pawapeling and WALHI (Indonesian Forum for the Environment) have been working tirelessly to reduce chemical discharge into the river. In December 2015, they sued three factories and the Sumedang Regency government for dumping into a tributary of the river and they won, resulting in these factories wastewater permits revoked, ultimately causing them to close down.
- Other efforts include the Mayor of Bandung, Ridwan Kamil imposing a ban on Styrofoam packaging, in an attempt to reduce pollution by households.
- Greenpeace has also helped with their Detox campaign which pressurizes large apparel companies to stop using toxic chemicals in their factories and facilities.
Ultimately, despite the efforts, there is still much to be done for the Citarum river to rejuvenate it back to its healthier pre-industrialization days.