Algarve beaches stripped of Blue Flag

Vale do Lobo beach in Loulé is not allowed to hoist the Blue Flag it was awarded at the beginning of the bathing season until it reapplies next year, despite confirmation that the water quality had returned to normal following a sewage leak from the Carcavai stream.

The Commission of Co-ordination and Regional Development (CCDR) tested the waters on August 20, deeming them safe, and allowed the beach to raise its blue flag. It was then taken down three days later at the request of the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe (FEEE), the entity responsible for awarding the Blue Flag. One of its rules is, if pollution is detected, beaches are prohibited from raising the Blue Flag for the remainder of that season. The FEEE has criticised the CCDR for its decision to allow the flag to be hoisted again, but the latter is adamant that it was not aware of this particular rule.

The chairman of the Vale do Lobo Group, Sander van Gelder, was reported as saying that the situation was dealt with badly. He believed it was detrimental to his resort, but he did assert that he had the utmost respect for the FEEE and understood the need to remove the flag. In a press release issued by the Vale do Lobo Group, he is quoted as saying, in regard to the sewage leak: “I deeply regret that, today, such environmental crime can happen without punishment or prior control. Responsibility must be taken.”

Artur Ribeiro of Águas do Algarve (AdA), the body responsible for the region’s water management and treatment, said that the water treatment stations in the area were respecting the rules and regulations in force. AdA, Loulé Câmara and the CCDR are now analysing the situation to ensure that this type of incident does not happen again.

Oura Leste in Albufeira, Pintadinho and Ferragudo beaches in Lagoa as well as Salema in Vila do Bispo have also been stripped of their Blue Flag this summer.