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355 Beaches with Gold Quality Award

355 Beaches with Gold Quality Award

It wasn't the damages of winter, the bathing season of 2014 would have everything to start with motifs of jubilation. The numbers are persuasive. Two out of every three officially designated bathing areas this year were classified as "Golden quality" beaches, a symbol assigned by the environmental Association Quercus. Are 355, in a universe of 543.

The blue flag – another quality award, the Foundation for environmental education and managed in Portugal by the blue flag Association of Europe (ABAE) – may be hoisted in 298 beaches.

About 95% of the bathing areas of the country, on the coast and inland, meeting the minimum quality criteria for bathing, while 86% have "excellent" quality.

For many swimmers, however, your favorite beach is not yet up to what was expected. The storms last winter caused huge damage. The sea destroyed jetties, groynes and accesses, and made disappear the sand in many coastal points.

The difficulty in moving quickly with repair works jeopardizes the blue flag raising in some beaches. There are at least a dozen in this situation: Moledo (Caminha), FAO-Ofir (Esposende), loving and North (Viana do Castelo), Cortegaça & Furadouro (Ovar), slash (Ilhavo), Pedrogao-Center (Leiria), Walls of Victory (Alcobaça) and CDS-Santo António (Almada).

For those beaches, the time limit for the raising of the blue flag, which normally ends in late June, has been extended until July 15. But the extension will be evaluated "on a case by case basis, in duly justified situations", says José Archer, President of the ABAE.

The official ceremony of the raising of the blue flags held this Sunday, June 01, North Beach, Póvoa de Varzim. The date coincides with that which they assign to the beginning of the bathing season. But the municipalities can suggest other periods and, in fact, is what most people do. Of the total number of designated bathing areas this year, 53 have started bathing season, 175 start on today and 329 chose later dates.

The choice has to do with the expectation of affluence at bathing areas and determines the period in which the beaches are subject to regular monitoring of water quality. In Cascais, for example, the season began may 1. In Albufeira, in the Algarve, the beginning was the May 17 and the station extends until 19 October. Is the longest bathing season, with 155 days.

The bathing areas of the interior – as river beaches, shores of reservoirs or natural pools – gradually gain evidence. But still do not have the same performance in terms of quality, of the coast. Of the 97 inland bathing areas classified by the Portuguese Agency for environment in 2013, 28 will be able to bear the symbol of "Golden quality" of Quercus – IE, 29%. The success rate of the beaches of the coast is much larger: 73%.

To be awarded the "gold", a beach must have, for five consecutive years, the maximum classification of water quality – which corresponded to "good" to "excellent" since 2009 and 2010. Is a tighter criterion than the European and national standards, which require good results over four years.

The objective of Quercus is "honor the beaches in a very consistent have had excellent quality water", according to Francisco Ferreira, Chairman of the Association. "This very cherishes the choice of people with regard to bathing areas who want to attend," adds Fisher.

The number of quality beaches of gold has been rising year by year. Started by be 87 in 2003, doubled to 169 in 2004 and last year had come to 336. Now, 43 new beaches amounted to the list and left 24 of her figure, bringing the total to 355.

In practice, approximately two out of every three beaches designated officially as "bathing water" in Portugal have the reward of Quercus.

Most of the beaches of gold-244 (69%) – also the flag's blue this year, which is a symbol of quality more picky, assuming compliance with 32 criteria. When the blue flag programme was launched in 1987, were 71 award-winning beaches. Now, are four times more.

The fact that there are more and more blue flags and beaches "gold" shows that the water quality is far from being a big problem, as it was only two decades. But it's not all a bed of roses. Last year the ABAE received numerous complaints of excess garbage on the beach. With the crisis, local authorities had less resources to do cleaning as required.

And for Quercus, there is still much to do in bathing areas away from the coast. "It's a success story on the coast, but still be a success on the beaches interiors," Francisco Ferreira.

 

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