San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

For Some, Life’s Not Such a Beach After All

Six of eight beaches that recently lost their Blue Flag designation did not lose it as a result of beach water contamination, as reported by the national press, including The Tico Times.

Those six beaches are Arenilla, Ocotal, Pelada de Nosara, Tamarindo, Dominical and Negra in Puerto Viejo, according to a report from the Blue Flag program.

Residents of two of those Pacific coast beach communities – Ocotal and Pelada de Nosara – are protesting the program’s decisions.

“The media reported that Playa Ocotal lost its Blue Flag designation due to unacceptably high levels of water contamination,” states an e-mail from Jack Cox of the Ocotal Homeowners Association. “However, after the homeowners association checked into this report, we learned that the beach lost its status, not because of contamination, but because of a paperwork filing problem.”

Cox said the beach lost its designation because an annual report was not filed with the program. Under Blue Flag rules, each beach has a committee that is required to file an annual report.

Bobby Johnson, head of the committee for Guiones and former committee member for Pelada de Nosara, said the same thing happened to Pelada.

“They just didn’t fill out their paperwork,” she said.

Johnson said she’s taking on Pelada’s cause and trying to get it reinstated. Blue Flag representative Jesus Vega said the two beaches’ waters weren’t excessively contaminated but said they have little recourse because their committees didn’t file the required paperwork, which means the program has to assume they didn’t comply with any of the requirements.

The program uses a percentage point system to rank participating beaches and communities. A committee has to score 90% to keep or win the Blue Flag designation.

Eight categories are evaluated – ocean water quality (makes up 35% of the score), potable water quality (15%), coastal quality (2.5%), inorganic waste disposal (7.5%), industrial waste (5%), sewage treatment (15%), environmental education (10%) and committee administration (10%).

According to the Blue Flag report, Ocotal, which scored 85%, lost because of poor committee administration and not conducting any environmental education.

Pelada de Nosara, 77.5%, lost for the same reasons plus contamination problems with its potable water. Arenilla, at 85%, lost because of the absence of sewage treatment.

Tamarindo, which scored 65%, lost because of poor administration, no environmental education and no sewage treatment.

Dominical, at 85%, lost because of potable water contamination and poor sewage treatment. Negra, at 77.5%, lost because of poor administration, no environmental education and problems with inorganic waste disposal.

The Costa Rican Blue Flag program started in 1996 and has no relation to the international program of the same name.


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