Now she has translated those concerns into a practical idea for how civil society can work together to save the river and make it sustainable.
"I've been thinking about this issue for quite some time, since I live in an environment where manufacturing industries dump their waste to rivers," she said.
When chemical manufacturer PT Bayer Indonesia challenged university students to come up with practical ideas for sustainable development through its Eco-Minds 2007 program, this year following the theme "Thinking Sustainability: Fresh Water Supply", Mutiara was up for the challenge.
So were 138 university students from all over Indonesia.
The program, which called on university students to send in their ideas on sustainable development, was carried out for the second time ever this year. The program was part of the Asia Pacific Eco-Minds 2007 forum, a joint project between Bayer and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Bayer's president director, Hans-Josef Schill, said the program, which is held every two years, aimed to encourage young thinkers' awareness of environmental issues.
Of 13 selected finalists, three winners would represent Indonesia in the forum, which will be held in Thailand between May 31 and June 2.
Mutiara was one of the winners of this year's program.
Mutiara's idea was to create a subdistrict level plan for river basin management, in which all local stakeholders would play a part in river conservation.
"The government, industry, the community, and experts should sit down and have a dialogue to build a strategy for river management. They will run the program they put together and evaluate it (as it goes)," she said.
Fiddy Semba Prasetiya from Padjadjaran University in Bandung, and Wini Rizkining Ayu from Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta were also among the winners announced Thursday.
Dedy Darnaedy, head of the Indonesia Research Center on Biology and one of the judges of the program, said the students had wonderful and original ideas.
"They can identify problems, analyze them, and can come up with practical solutions," he said.
Sudaryono, deputy for information and community empowerment at the State Ministry for the Environment, said that the role of youth in environmental protection was important and should be encouraged.
"In the next 10 to 15 years these young people will be the ones who will be sitting in strategic positions in legislative government, the executive, non-governmental organizations and industry. By increasing their awareness of environment issues, we hope that when they are in the position of being decision makers, they will protect the environment at least."
Last year's winner, Ilsa Meidina, 22, from the University of Indonesia, said that participating in the Asia Pacific Eco-Minds Forum, then held in the Philippines, changed her outlook on the environment.
"I was deeply disturbed (about environmental issues). I really wanted to make a change," she said.
She tried to get her friends involved with environmental conservation, but with limited success.