Extreme water pollution threatens windsurfers at Aquece Rio 2015

August 3, 2015 | Windsurfing
Aquece Rio 2014: don't touch that water | Photo: Aquece Rio

Raw sewage. All RS:X windsurfers taking part in the upcoming Aquece Rio, in Brazil, will be competing and training in highly contaminated waters.

The Olympic test event will take place in the race area of Marina da Gloria and Guanabara Bay between August 13th-22nd, but the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) is worried about the quality of the local waters.

"Sailors were concerned with objects that may interfere with racing during the Olympic Games, and in response the state government launched a tender of up to $11 million for 17 eco barriers to be put in place. These eco barriers will prevent floating garbage from entering Guanabara Bay and the race areas," ISAF tells in an official statement.

"The new system of eco barriers will be complemented by eco boat that will collect garbage that accumulates around the barriers, with a further step of a monitoring system utilising satellite pictures to support the eco boat."

But there are additional concerns. An Associated Press investigation revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in the Olympic and Paralympic venues.

The local government has promised to divert sewage from Marina da Gloria, close landfills, reduce industrial pollution and increase water treatment works. Will it be enough to protect sailors from diseases and infections?

"ISAF hopes that the power of the Olympic Games will provide a great legacy as Rio de Janeiro works to improve the state of the bay generally. The IOC monitors the water twice weekly, which will be increased to every other day during the 2015 Aquece Rio test event," notes the sailing organization.

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