Sixty-eight beaches in the country, 55% more than last year, are Zero Pollution areas this year, with the municipality of Torres Vedras highlighted, this Saturday announced the environmental association Zero, which did not distinguish bathing areas in the interior.
On the day that the bathing season opens in various areas of the country, the association revealed that the Zero Pollution beaches, which it evaluated, represent 11% of the total of 621 bathing areas in operation.
In total, this year there are 24 more beaches on the list, compared to 44 classified last year.
The municipalities with the largest number of Zero Pollution beaches are Torres Vedras (Lisbon district), which repeats the previous year's good ranking with 10 spaces, Peniche (Leiria), with five, Angra do Heroísmo (Azores), also with five, and Tavira (Faro district) and Praia da Vitória (Azores), with four beaches each.
The association said, however, that this year, contrary to what had been recorded in all previous years since 2016 (the year in which Zero started this assessment), there is no indoor bathing area with this classification.
“This fact is an indicator of how much remains to be done to ensure good water quality in rivers and streams in Portugal, which requires additional efforts in terms of urban sanitation and companies”, underlines Zero.
According to the association, a Zero Pollution beach "is one in which no microbiological contamination was detected in the analyzes carried out on bathing water over the last three bathing seasons".
This analysis took into account the parameters of the legislation in force, and it was found that all 68 bathing areas are coastal.
"It should be noted that it is extremely difficult to achieve an unscathed registration over three years in the indoor bathing areas, much more susceptible to microbiological pollution", he said.
On the day that the bathing season opens in areas such as the Algarve, Cascais, Costa da Caparica or Nazaré – this year later due to the covid-19 pandemic -, Zero recalled that for environmental and safety reasons only frequented beaches classified as bathing areas, where there is surveillance and where water quality is known.
The association also stressed that due to the pandemic, adequate distances from third parties must be safeguarded and warns that the population should not leave any residues on the beach, taking care when throwing away gloves and masks.
"More than 80% of the 12.2 million tonnes of plastic entering the marine environment each year comes from land-based sources, with the largest contributor being plastic waste, including items such as beverage bottles and other types of packaging," he said. , adding that masks and gloves are also being detected in the Mediterranean this year.
Zero transmitted the data used in this analysis to the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), responsible for the coordination of these matters, namely for the classification of bathing water.
Bathing water monitoring is a legal competence of APA on the continent, the Regional Directorate for Sea Affairs in the Azores and the Regional Directorate for Spatial Planning and Environment in Madeira.