No Medals for Sanitation at Rio Olympics
warrant at his home. He was charged with possession of cocaine, trafficking cocaine and possession with intent to supply cocaine.
The biggest frustration at the Olympic Games, to be inaugurated in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, is the failure to meet environmental sanitation targets and promises in the city’s beaches, rivers, lakes and lagoons.
The opportunity to give a decisive push to the cleanup of Rio’s emblematic Guanabara bay and its lagoons has been lost. The drive against waterborne pollution was part of the proposal which won the city the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
What happened confirms the national tradition of giving sanitation low priority on the government agenda. So far only half the Brazilian population has access to piped water, and only a small proportion of transported water is treated.
“The environment pays no taxes and neither does it vote, therefore it does not command the attention of our political leaders nor of society as a whole,” complained biologist Mario Moscatelli, a well known water issues activist.
Planes touch down at the international aiport on the edge of one of the most polluted parts of Guanabara bay. The airport, which was home to 212,754 people in 2010 according to the official census, is close to canals taking untreated effluent and rubbish from millions of people living on the mainland.
Guanabara bay receives 90 tonnes daily of rubbish and 18,000 litres per second of untreated waste water, mainly via the 55 rivers and canals that flow into it, according to Sergio Ricardo de Lima, an ecologist and founder of the Bahia Viva (Living Bay) movement.
Rio’s Olympic bid announced a target of cleaning up 80 percent of the effluents reaching the bay. The actual proportion achieved was 55 percent, Sports Minister Leonardo Picciani said at a press conference.
The 80 percent target was not realistic; completely decontaminating the bay would require 25 to 30 years and sanitation investments equivalent to six billion dollars, André Correa, environment secretary for the state of Rio de Janeiro, admitted.