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New measures needed to protect Yucatán’s beaches from pollution

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Garbage in the form of plastic waste continues to be a major problem in Yucatán, but health experts say that the effect of untreated domestic and industrial water runoff could be even worse. Photo: Courtesy

Worrying levels of pollution have been detected at four of Yucatán’s beaches, say federal health authorities.

The most polluted beaches in Yucatán are in Santa Clara, Dzilam de Bravo, Chicxulub, and Progreso.

Regulators say that even these four beaches are still within acceptable limits for recreational activities such as swimming, but warn that unless action is taken this may not be the case for much longer. 

Although the presence of trash on beaches has long been a concern, specialists say that poor water management is the main culprit of Yucatáns worsening water pollution problem.

Because the ground in Yucatán is composed mainly of extremely hard limestone, the construction of sewer systems is not viable. 

Earlier: Rare baby Lora turtles seen in Yucatán for the first time

As a result, both domestic sewage and industrial wastewater often find their way into the ocean, especially after particularly heavy rains. 

Some communities have attempted to combat this problem by installing drainage systems near coastlines. These have a tendency to clog up and overflow during storms and arguably make the problem even worse. 

But Yucatán’s water quality issues are not limited to coastlines. Increasing levels of pollution have also been detected in drinking water sourced from its underground aquifers. 

Some communities have begun to take bold steps to protect their water by kicking out companies that create unacceptable levels of waste. A prominent example of this is Homun’s fight against one of Mexico’s largest pork producers, PAPO

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