Tests revealing that two Puerto Escondido beaches were unsuitable for recreational use have triggered a reaction among residents, who are demanding authorities correct the situation.
High levels of bacteria were found at Puerto Angelito and Playa Principal after federal authorities tested beaches around Mexico in advance of the summer holidays. Previous studies had already indicated that there were large amounts of Enterococcus faecalis, which comes from human and animal feces.
The story became national news last week, putting Puerto Escondido in the limelight as having two of 14 Mexican beaches that were deemed unsafe for swimming.
In response, local citizens, including a fishermen’s cooperative and tourism service providers, met with municipal authorities from both Santa María Colotepec and San Pedro Mixtepec in an effort to address the problem.
Many believe that the source of the contamination is clandestine discharges of wastewater throughout the city, a problem they described as “old.”
Previous governments have attempted to remedy the situation, but no real solutions have materialized.
As an example they mentioned the administration of former San Pedro Mixtepec Mayor José Antonio Aragón Roldán, who between 2014 and 2016 carried out a census of homes that discharge their wastewater into the El Regadío river, which flows into Marinero beach.
Aragón proposed collecting the sewage in biodigesters but, due to lack of funding, the project never get off the ground, and later administrations never followed up on it.
During the later administration of Luis Eduardo Rojas Zavaleta an attempt was made to build a treatment plant in Puerto Angelito, the newspaper El Imparcial reported this week. But construction of the facility was shut down for not complying with construction and health regulations.
The meeting between municipal authorities and local citizens included a tour in which they located 23 clandestine wastewater discharges.
Municipal authorities have given the owners of the properties the opportunity to regularize their situation and connect to the sewer system, and if they refuse to do so they have been warned that criminal complaints will be filed.
Local fishermen have expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation, threatening to set up roadblocks in Puerto Escondido as a means to exert pressure on authorities.
Meanwhile, the environmental organization SOS Puerto has started a petition on change.org to demand action on drainage and sewage problems and ban the burning of trash.
Call for the burning ban was no doubt triggered by the smell of burning garbage — plastic, in particular — last week in Puerto Escondido.
With reports by El Imparcial