Raw sewage in Rio waters where athletes will compete

CCTV News

Raw sewage in Rio waters where athletes will compete

One of the promises the Rio de Janeiro authorities made ahead of the Olympics, was that the polluted Guanabara Bay would be cleaned up. Sadly, that has not happened.

CCTV America’s Stephen Gibbs sent this report from Rio de Janiero.

Raw sewage in Rio waters where athletes will compete

Raw sewage in Rio waters where athletes will compete

More than 8,000 liters of untreated sewage flow into the bay, every second.

Rio said it was ready, and in many ways that is true.

The sporting arenas are all set for the opening of these games, including brand new tennis courts and a swimming pool that cost a reported $38 million.

But elsewhere, there is something that the city has failed to fix: the sewage system.

More than 8,000 liters of untreated sewage flow into the bay, every second.

The same water where the sailors, the rowers and the long distance swimmers are going to compete.

CCTV took a boat trip with Mario Moscatelli, a biologist who has been monitoring Rio’s water pollution for 20 years.

“All you see here are environmental crimes that are committed daily … not only here in the lagoons, but in the Guanabara Bay, everywhere,” Moscatelli said. “It can cause respiratory tract problems, irritate your eyes, cause severe headaches, dizziness and vomiting.”

When Rio won the games, the authorities said this would be fixed by reducing the amount of raw sewage pouring in the sea by 80 percent. That was then revised to 50 percent, which has not even been met. 

Brazil’s sailing coach Torben Grael said the waters are as bad as ever.

“The condition of the water has not improved, it is just a bit better at this time of year,” Grael said. The only thing that was done is the group of barriers in the Lagoa Marina, around the sewers. And that was done without taking the rain into account, because if it rains it will overflow, and the waste will get out in the same way as before.”

On the eve of the Olympics, all the athletes are too focused on the competition to worry much about the quality of the water.

But it’s a disappointment for the residents of this city. They were promised that one legacy of this Olympics would be cleaner, safer water.

Before the games have even started, we know that won’t be true.