Students take part in water

Students from state junior high school 115 took part in an event to commemorate World Water Monitoring Day on Saturday, testing the water quality of the Pesanggrahan River in South Jakarta.

World Water Monitoring Day falls on Nov. 18, when communities around the world organize events to educate and build public awareness on water conservation by engaging people in projects to monitor the quality of local water bodies, according to worldwatermonitoringday.org.

One of the students, Arini Natasya, said that before the event, she did not think she could do much to improve Jakarta's environment, but after the event, she knew that every little thing mattered in the long run.

She said she used to throw trash into the gutter, but after the event she would discipline herself.

"The event taught me that even the smallest thing can become much bigger in the future," she said.

As part of the event, the students performed tests on the river's water quality.

According to their test results, the Pesanggrahan River is not safe to drink, but is safe enough for fish and other animals.

The river had an acidity level of pH 8, a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius and a dissolved oxygen level of 4 ppm (part per million).

The event was organized by the Indonesian Communication Forum on Drinking Water Quality Management (Forkami), in cooperation with the UN Children's Fund (Unicef), water operator PT Aetra Air Jakarta, Drinking Water and Environmental Sanitation Network (AMPL), Trisakti University and local Sangga Buana group.

Forkami chairman Abdullah Muthalib said Indonesians, especially those living on Java, were on the brink of a serious water crisis.

"We predict that the clean water availability level in Java will be 30 billion cubic meters per year by 2015. This is only 15 percent of the predicted clean water requirement of 165 billion cubic meters," he said.

Besides teaching students how to test water quality, the event also arranged a discussion on the importance of water and techniques to maintain quality. The discussion encouraged the students to spread the word to their peers on the issue.

Rositayanti, a lecturer from Trisakti University, said that based on the test, Pesanggrahan River was a rarity in Jakarta.

"Despite the fact that the water is not clean enough for human consumption, the level of oxygen contained meets the minimal standard and is higher than any other river in Jakarta," she said.

"A lot of rivers in Jakarta have zero ppm. The temperature also shows that it is a friendly habitat for fishes."

Chaeruddin and the Sangga Buana Group have worked hard over the last 15 years to clean and maintain the river and its surrounding area.

"The river used to be pitch black. There was garbage everywhere. Not a single fish or clam could survive in there," Chaeruddin said.

"We faced many obstacles along the way, but we kept going and never gave up because we believed that what we were doing was right." (hdt)

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