RIO DE JANEIRO – The names Copacabana and Ipanema evoke images of white sand and crystal-clear water, but the reality of Brazil’s beaches is much different, according to a recent study by the Folha de S.Paulo daily.
Of the country’s seaside resort towns and cities, only 42 percent boast beaches with optimal water for bathing while 29 percent have beaches that are in bad or terrible condition.
Those with the highest-quality water are located in southern states such as Rio Grande do Sul and Parana that are less frequented by tourists, according to the study, which based its findings on information provided by state environmental councils.
Botafogo and Flamengo are Rio de Janeiro’s most polluted beaches, while the water quality at that metropolis’ popular and iconic Copacabana and Ipanema beaches is rarely optimal, partly due to pollution from Guanabara Bay.
“Guanabara Bay is a garbage dump with all of Rio’s sewage,” Brazilian biologist Mario Moscatelli said, adding that waste water from lagoons such as Rodrigo de Freitas washes ashore on Copacabana and Ipanema.
Garbage left behind by beach-goers, who leave behind food, plastic plates and bags, beer cans, cigarette buds and even cardboard containers and boxes, aggravates the problem of polluted seawater.
The political will to solve the problem is lacking, Moscatelli told EFE, adding that politicians divert money earmarked for beach clean-up efforts.
“It’ll never be solved. This is only going to get worse. The beaches and bays are going to get much dirtier, and there’ll be more polluted lakes,” the expert said.