San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tamarindo Loses Blue Flag Designation

Officials this week stripped Tamarindo, a northern Pacific coast community revered by surfers and ocean lovers, of its Blue Flag ecological designation.

In August, water-quality tests conducted by the National Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) determined that some areas of the Guanacaste beach were more than 7,000 times over the limit of fecal matter considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Darner Mora, director of AyA’s watertesting lab, told the daily La Nación that the community had done too little to correct the situation since the test results were first reported.

“If we don’t tell the truth, they won’t take the corrective measures,” he said.

According to the Blue Flag Web site,  Blue Flag beaches must meet 29 criteria, ranging from water quality, environmental management and education and services, for consideration.

During the past month, officials from both the Health Ministry and AyA have made small steps toward correcting the situation, but a commitment to install a necessary sewage treatment plant, officials say, is still lacking.

To date, neither the Health Ministry nor the Municipality of Santa Cruz, which has jurisdiction over the area, have placed signs on the beach warning swimmers and surfers of the contaminated water (TT, Nov. 16).

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