Can Rio Clean Up The Filthy Waters Of Guanabara Bay Before The Olympics?

Guanabara Bay is an oceanic bay located in Southeast Brazil in the state of Rio de Janeiro and considering this year’s Olympic games is being hosted in Rio, the bay will host Olympic events such as distance swimming and sailing.

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The past couple of years have seen sailors in training for the Olympics visiting the bay regularly.

This has given rise to the consistent reports of putrid conditions, often accompanied by shocking pictures and stories, that have inevitably drawn global attention to the terrible condition of the bay.

Guanabara Bay

The situation is actually so bad that doctors are warning athletes not to get water in their mouths. Some people have unsuccessfully called for the relocation or postponement of sailing and other open-water events, such as kayaking, triathlon and marathon swimming.

These reports, at this point, are at odds with initial pledges from organizers made before the Games were awarded, that 80% of sewage would be treated before being dumped into the bay.

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Rather than fulfilling that pledge with initiatives which should have been undertaken over the years to clean up the bay, tons of raw sewage continue to be pumped into the bay each day.

Visitors can hardly stand the stench which arises from among other areas, a giant pipe that runs from downtown churning human waste into the marina at certain times each day.

Guanabara Bay

When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had come to inspect, the organizers had applied a cosmetic move. They had basically put a bacteria in the water to treat it and improve the appearance.

Considering the plan to capture and treat 80 percent of the sewage that flows into Guanabara Bay has now been stamped even by the organizers as an impossible feat to make happen by August, if ever, the same cosmetic move with many other contingency plans may be applied in the time that remains before the Olympics.

Guanabara Bay

Already, the organizers have strapped so-called eco-barriers, giant strainers to hold back garbage, across some river mouths to contain garbage and employed eco boats to troll the bay, scooping up all visible trash. Some rivers and canals now have gates to hold back the rotten flow.

There were even plans to install several small-scale river treatment units, designed to capture and treat the worst of the sewage just before it reached the bay, however only one is in operation.

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This short-term water treatment policy will mean that television networks will be able to show glorious blue panoramic shots of the water during the various events, but the reality is that the Guanabara Bay will eventually go back to being nightmarishly filthy after the games.