ZERO points out water quality problems on beaches and information failures

21 beaches across the country have already been banned and more than 22 beaches have already had bathing inadvisable or prohibited this bathing season

Associação ZERO evaluated the results regarding the quality of bathing water in the current bathing season, available for consultation in the National Water Resources Information System and compared with the situation verified in the last bathing season of 2021 for the same period of time, having concluded that there are problems in the quality of the water on the beaches and lack of information.

According to ZERO, there are currently 675 bathing waters, with a very limited number of beaches showing problems, «but practically as expressively as in the last bathing season».

The advice against or prohibition of bathing, even for a short period of time, affected 22 beaches, 23 less than in the same period last year.

In these bathing areas, the analyzes exceeded the limits technically set at national level in relation to at least one of the two microbiological parameters that are evaluated (Escherichia coli e Enterococcus intestinal).

21 beaches have been banned so far, one more than in 2021, most due to poor water quality, although this information is not made available by the Information System and only through the media can the reasons be confirmed.

In many of these closed beaches, there is no indication that there was unsuitable water for bathing, nor are analysis data available (the cases of some beaches in Matosinhos or the Armona-Mar in Olhão).

The bathing waters that presented the highest number of situations of water unfit for bathing were in Funchal, the bathing water of Poças do Gomes – Doca do Cavacas (three situations) and in Sines the bathing water of Morgavel (two situations).


National Information System has serious flaws

ZERO considers that «there are still flaws in the information that is made available on the website of the Portuguese Environment Agency, given that the reasons for banning bathing areas and the procedures on the part of the Regional Health Delegates are not duly clarified, with situations of similar contamination where, in some cases, new analyzes were carried out before bathing was allowed again and in others not».

In addition, there are many cases of beaches where interdiction has been decreed (temporary or permanent) for which there is no information in the system on the reasons that led to the interdiction decision or any results of analyzes that have been carried out.

Furthermore, denounces ZERO, there are 48 bathing waters without any analysis results available (7% of the total).


It is always important to investigate and prevent contamination

From the analysis of the data carried out by ZERO, the association considers that it is necessary to reflect on the fact that there are «many beaches banned by the Regional Health Delegates in the interior, places more susceptible to discharges, control of diffuse pollution or lack of water treatment residuals, which require appropriate control measures'.

In addition, many of the bathing areas that have been advised against or banned during the current bathing season are classified as Excellent, «and therefore, they must be sporadic episodes that, in the context of the legislation, may not even jeopardize their quality, but which must have their causes duly investigated”.

In each of the cases «it is essential to identify the origin of the problems and ascertain responsibilities, with the Portuguese Environment Agency and the General Inspection for Agriculture, Sea, Environment and Spatial Planning playing a decisive role», considers the ZERO association.


Only the ZERO pollution beach of Armona-Mar had problems

Among the 58 beaches classified by the association as ZERO pollution beach (bathing areas where no contamination was detected in the analyzes carried out over the last three bathing seasons), listing It was published in early June of this year., and available in full here, none of them were covered by interdiction or by discouraging or prohibiting bathing, with the exception of Praia de Armona-Mar in the municipality of Olhão.