Environmental association Zero announced the distinction this morning. A Zero Pollution beach is one in which no microbiological contamination was detected in the tests carried out on the bathing waters over the last three bathing seasons.
According to Zero, all beaches distinguished last year as Zero Pollution beaches are classified, under the law, as beaches with “excellent” water quality. However, if they had a single analysis in which the presence of microorganisms was detected, even if very far from the limit value, they could no longer be included in this list.
The municipalities with the highest number of Zero Pollution beaches are Alcobaça (district of Leiria), Porto Santo (Madeira) and Tavira (district of Faro), with four beaches, and Faro, Peniche (district of Leiria), Sesimbra (district of Setúbal) and Vila do Bispo (district of Faro), with three.
There are 43 Zero Pollution beaches on the continent, in 24 municipalities, six in the Azores, in five municipalities, and four in Madeira, in a single municipality.
The municipalities of Torres Vedras (Lisbon) and Angra do Heroísmo (Azores) had, this year, a significant number of beaches removed from the list - nine and five, respectively.
In terms of balance, 29 beaches left last year's list and 14 new ones entered.
According to Zero, "it is extremely difficult to achieve an unharmed record over three years in inland bathing areas, much more susceptible to microbiological pollution." For the second consecutive year, there are again no inland beaches on the list, "unlike the period from 2016 (the year in which the association started this evaluation) to 2019".
"All beaches are considered 'coastal', except for a beach in an estuarine area classified as 'transition'", says the association's statement, noting that this fact "is an indicator of how much still needs to be done to ensure good quality rivers and streams in Portugal, which requires additional efforts in terms of urban sanitation”.
According to Zero, and according to a recent Information from the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), an interim analysis carried out in 2018 revealed "a decrease in water quality" in a significant amount of water bodies in relation to the data obtained at the time of diagnosis for the 2016-2021 Hydrographic Region Management Plan.
The data used in the analysis of the association were transmitted by the APA, responsible for coordinating these matters, namely for the classification of bathing waters and monitoring data.
Monitoring of bathing waters is a legal responsibility of the APA, in mainland Portugal, of the Regional Directorate for Sea Affairs in the Azores, and the Regional Directorate for Spatial Planning and Environment in Madeira.
Original article available in Portuguese at http://postal.pt/