How history is repeating itself

When I started my studies on water governance at Twente University in 1989, my father told me about the small river streams in the Dutch industrialized region of Twente, where he used to live and work in the textile industry in the fifties and sixties. He told me how small rivers changed colour at that time, depending on the colouring used that day, and how fish died massively. When I started my studies that had changed already, mainly because of the very effective regime of the Dutch Surface Water pollution Act, which was adopted in 1970. Since then another change has taken place in the region, as most of the textile industry disappeared and moved to low-income countries in Asia, such as India and Indonesia. I had not thought about all this so much again until last week when I was in Bandung, Indonesia. Scholars of two universities organized a tour for us along the Citarum river, according to the International Herald Tribune the ‘most polluted river of the world’. The river is suffering from both domestic and industrial pollution, mainly from the textile industry. Only now I really understood how water pollution due to colour from textile looks like. The river looked like paint. In combination with the enormous amount of solid waste in the river which we observed, one may easily get depressed. With a booming economy, however, there is no reason why the Indonesian people would not be able to realize the same transition as my father had observed in Twente, in the next decades.

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1 comment

  1. Thanks for a great contribution. The restrictions at a particular place always result in increase in similar activities at relatively unregulated areas. Unless there is a fundamental shift in consumption and production patterns of societies globally , a favorable condition for conserving water resources will remain an illusion. Ecological modernization may not be a right approach in this regard.

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