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Shit in the Ria Formosa

sewagepipeFor those remaining unconvinced that the Algarve’s protected Ria Formosa lagoon remains a convenient dumping zone for raw sewage, a video posted on Facebook records events at the outflow pipe from the Waste Water Treatment Plant to the west of Olhão, proof that large scale dumping continues despite official denial that there is a problem.

The December 28th, 2017, video clip shows thousands of cubic metres of sewage being dumped into water where the famous Ria Formosa shellfish carefully are tended and harvested in bivalve production zone Olhão 3. Click HERE

Many illegally harvested shellfish are sold in the backstreets of the city and supplied, cash-in-hand, to local restaurants – the risk to consumers is unacceptable

Complaints about the effects of water pollution have grown in recent years. Olhão has started to become a tourist destination, with many unwitting holidaymakers trusting that the local authorities at least keep the water free of obvious sources of pollution, such as raw sewage.

This is not the case at all with the sewage outflow by the ferry ticket office providing visual and olfactory reminder that parts of the city’s sewage system is connected to rainwater drainage pipes – with the inevitable result that untreated sewage ends up in the Ria Formosa, a designated Natural Park.

The quality of the Ria Formosa water has a direct impact on the production of bivalves and on the economic survival of thousands of local people.

These environmental crimes are committed day in, day out, with the government-funded IPMA water monitoring service choosing its data collection points with the greatest of care so as to hide the true state of affairs.

If the IPMA monitored the water in the shellfish production zones, the situation no longer could be hidden from public view under a blanket of official apathy. It is no longer acceptable to blame pollution in the Ria Formosa on agricultural run-off, the video shows what the Portuguese authorities deem acceptable in a tourist and shellfishing production zone.

Meanwhile, cases of food poisoning and the infection of bathers continues with the town hall, IPMA, Maritime Police and the GNR’s environmental Unit condoning the daily pollution that flows unhindered into one of the Algarve’s most treasured areas.

Olhão is in danger of losing its current trendy status if this situation continues. Dragged from economic decline by hundreds of foreign investors buying into the authentic lifestyle of the city, a social media campaign with health warnings could stop this welcome econimic development in its tracks.

With Olhão property prices rising 12% in the last quarter of 2017, the boom could easily turn to bust and one group of owners, experienced in social media and campaign work, already is planning a ‘shit in the river’ campaign for 2018 to warn tourists of the Ria Formosa’s dangers, unless concrete steps are taken to halt the environmental crimes that are endangering health.

The video by Tomas Graça’s Facebook page is on this link: https://www.facebook.com/tomaz.graca/videos/10155524575946749/

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