January 7th, 2012 (InsideCostaRica.com) Tourists who visit the beaches of Jaco and Herradura should be aware of where the mouths of tributary rivers meet the ocean in these popular tourist towns, as these waters have a high level of fecal coliforms, and authorities warn that swimming is not recommended near such areas.
The director of the National Water Laboratory at the Water and Sewage Institute (AYA), Darner Mora, explained that due to the high levels of contamination in these areas, they have sent an order to have warning signs placed on Jaco Beach, though Mora said the signs are not yet present.
“There is a serious problem in the tributaries, for which we ordered to have warning signs placed, to warn people that the water is contaminated with fecal material and isn’t safe for children to swim, but the order has not been complied with yet. The municipality has not proceeded with the signs because it affects tourism,” said Mora.
However, the mayor of the municipality of Garabito, Karla Gutierrez, seemed to disagree with Mora.
“The signs have been placed, but we cannot have a police officer next to each sign so that people will not damage them (…) they have been installed… I cannot state for sure that they are there because I do not know whether somebody removed them or not,” said Gutierrez.
It is important to note, however, that Mora explained that the current contamination at the mouths of the tributaries does not affect the quality of the water at the beach in Jaco in general, as the topographical structure of the coast is oceanic, which allows waves and ocean currents to dilute the concentration of fecal coliforms, making the area safe for swimming and placing it in the “green” category.
Costa Rica’s beaches are classified in 5 categories, which indicate water quality: blue (excellent quality), which have less than 10 fecal coliforms per 100 milliliters of water; green (good quality) with 10 to 100 coliforms; yellow (regular quality for swimming) with 101 to 240 coliforms; red (not recommended for swimming) with 240 to 500 coliforms and brown class (contaminated, not suitable for swimming) with 500-1,000 fecal coliforms.
Mora said that some of the beaches designated as “blue flag” in the country are Playa Blanca, Langosta, Puerto Vargas, Conchal, and Flamingo; whereas some identified as “brown” are downtown Quepos Beach, Tarcoles, Azul, Golfito and Guacalillo.