Since 2001, the Indonesian government has formulated and implemented several restoration programs to improve the Citarum’s water quality. However, these programs were often contested, particularly concerning the meanings of ‘water quality’ and how those informed approaches to responsibility and involvement. This paper problematises river restoration in view of these controversies towards improving people’s lives and their environment. Our investigation found (1) a selective use of scientific knowledge of water quality and related responsibilities; (2) a tension between broader inclusion and military involvement in river restoration; and (3) a diverse host of informal restoration practices that largely remain unnoticed in view of the government programs. The findings indicate that river governance can benefit from recognising and tuning into below-the-radar restoration practices to tackle river pollution.
- river restoration
- water quality