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Seven in Every Ten Brazilian Beaches Unfit for Bathing Are in Urban Areas

12/21/2017 - 10h46

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JOÃO PEDRO PITOMBO
MARCELO TOLEDO
CAROLINA LINH
FROM SÃO PAULO

A survey by Folha based on data on the amount of bacteria in the sea in 1,217 beaches in 13 Brazilian coastal cities showed that, from January to October this year, the quality of 335 beaches was considered bad or very bad - 234 of these (some 70%) are in average-sized or big cities.

The annual classification of the beaches is based on weekly or monthly levels of coliform bacteria; however, it is an average. That means that even beaches considered good or regular could bring risks.

If a beach is considered unfit for swimming in more than 50% of the measurements in the period, it is considered very bad. Those with insufficient scores in between 25% and 50% of the measurements are considered bad and beaches with poor results in up to 25% of the measurements are considered regular.

Beaches that were not considered unfit for bathing in any measurement are qualified as good.

The concentration of dirty beaches in urban areas is a result of factors such as poor garbage collection and sewage treatment as well as pollution in neighboring rivers.

"On the coast of São Paulo, for example, the quality of beach waters reflects the number of people on the coast. The more people there are, the more sewage there is," says Cláudia Lamparelli, the manager of Cetesb.

Sanitation companies stress that the illegal sewage systems and the uncontrolled urban growth of cities are the main problems.

Fighting the problem requires heavy investment in sanitation – whose share in budgets was slashed due to the economic crisis.

In comparison with last year, the result is a scenario of stagnant quality in Brazilian beaches this year.

Of the 1,217 beaches evaluated in 2017, 43% were considered good, 30% regular and 28% were bad or very bad. That means that in every ten Brazilian beaches, about three were bad or very bad. In 2016, 29% of 1,180 beaches were in the same situation.

BEACH MIGRATION

Of the ten Brazilian state capitals with data on water quality, four did not have a single beach fit for bathing in all the evaluations along the year: Fortaleza, Recife, São Luís and Vitória.

In Rio de Janeiro, beaches in the south zone, such as Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon were classified as regular.

That leads to the so-called "weekend migration" of tourists and residents to smaller areas far from the urban centers.

Of the 522 beaches considered fit for bathing in all the 100% evaluations and classified as good in 2017, 369 (some 70%) are in cities with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants.

There are also exceptions in smaller towns, such Bombinhas (SC), which has 14,000 inhabitants and several areas unfit for swimming.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

Read the article in the original language

Elvis Pereira/Folhapress
Santo Antonio de Lisboa beach, in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina
Santo Antonio de Lisboa beach, in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina

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