The Dâmbovița River is a river in Romania. It starts at the junction of headwaters Valea Vladului and Boarcășu, having its source in the Făgăraș Mountains, and flowing southward. It passes through Bucharest and flows into the Argeș River 286 kilometres from its source, near Budești, in Călărași County. Dâmbovița County is named after the river.
For centuries, Dâmbovița was the main source of drinking water for the city of Bucharest. While there were a few dozen water wells, most of the water in Bucharest was distributed by water-carriers.
Bucharest folkore mentions the waters of Dâmbovița as "sweet", and even at the beginning of the 18th century, Anton Maria del Chiaro considered it "light and clean". However, toward the end of the century, as the population of Bucharest increased, the river ceased to be as clean, and hence the need of the aqueducts. The earliest aqueducts with public fountains (cișmele) were built during the rule of Prince Alexander Ypsilantis.
Many watermills were built on the Dâmbovița, most of them owned by the prince, the monasteries or boyars.
Dâmbovița used to have two tributaries in Bucharest:
- Dâmbovicioara, on the right bank, which probably flowed in what is the area where Sființii Apostoli street is located.
- Bucureștioara, which rose from a pond located in what is now Grădina Icoanei
Additionally, there was a branch, Gârlița, which formed an island, Ostrovu.
The Dâmbovița often flooded Bucharest, especially the lower left bank, which was lower. After the great 1775 flood, Ypsilantis ordered a branch canal to be built, in order to prevent, or at least diminish the effects of such flooding; in 1813, Prince Jean Georges Caradja decided to clean up the river bed. The portion of the river flowing through the capital was channelled twice: in 1883 (to combat regular floods), and in the late 1970s, to aid in the replanning of the Central area and the construction of the Bucharest Metro.
Dâmbovița has never been navigable, but there has been an unsuccessful attempt in 1902 to introduce boats on the river.
Early in its history, Bucharest had few bridges over the Dâmbovița, as the right bank was only sparsely populated. The estates of some boyars used to extend on both banks of the river and they had footbridges. Currently, there are sixteen bridges over Dâmbovița River in central Buchar
Dâmbovița is one of the most polluted rivers in Romania and the most important source of pollution of the Danube, into which its waters flow. When entering Bucharest, the river's water quality is already rather bad and below the recommended standards, but after exiting Bucharest its water are in the worst category, due to the hundreds of millions of cubic meters of raw sewage which are dumped every year directly in the river.
In Bucharest, the river is vertically divided into 2 separated parts. The lower part contains the sewage from the city, which combines with the upper, cleaner part when exiting Bucharest. There are some fish that live in the upper side of the river and sometimes one can even see some fishers on the sides, although eating that fish isn't recommended.
Downstream from Bucharest, the river contains very high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, and as such, it has only forms of life found typically in toxic environments: larvae, insects and microorganisms.
The quality of the waters is expected to improve after the first sewage treatment plant of Bucharest will start working toward the end of 2009 (with a capacity of 10 m³/sec), while a second one should be ready by 2012.
The following rivers are the major tributaries to the river Dâmboviţa: Ilfov and Colentina.
The river flows through the following communes, towns and cities: Rucăr, Dragoslavele, Stoenești, Malu cu Flori, Cândești, Vulcana-Băi, Voinești, Mănești, Dragomirești, Lucieni, Nucet, Conțești, Lunguleţu, Chiajna, Bucharest, Plătărești, Vasilaţi and Budești.