San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

8 Beaches Lose Blue Flag

Eight beaches this week were defrocked of their Blue Flag designation, which certifies them safe for human use and rates the level of contamination with a star system.

Seven Pacific coast beaches in the Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces that lost their Blue Flag honors were Arenilla, Ocotal, Tamarindo, Manzanillo, Agujas, Pelada de Nosara and Dominica.

On the Caribbean side, just one beach, Playa Negra in Puerto Viejo, lost the designation. Tamarindo’s beach did not regain certification, even though Mayor Jorge Chavarría said February tests he ordered showed the beach was much better than August 2007 tests conducted by the National Water and Sewer Institute.

The August test results led to the beach losing its designation and a wave of inspections by the Health Ministry that resulted in 65 sewage citations and 11 business closures.

Manzanillo beach, which is directly in front of the troubled but recently reopened Hotel Allegro Papagayo, also lost its designation, allegedly because of contamination caused by the hotel.

The Costa Rican Blue Flag program started in 1996 and has nothing to do with the international program of the same name.

The program was started to encourage environmentally responsible development in coastal zones, according to its Web site.


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