It may still be a ‘toilet’ full of untreated sewage, but many believe Rio will be able to pull it all together before Summer 2016. This week, around 300 sailors (including the US Sailing Team) will compete at the first Rio event – the ‘test event” before next year’s Test Event – despite the water still containing dead dogs, dead cats, floating TVs, and entirely new reasons not to capsize.
Frequent SA photo contributor Juerg Kaufman was on hand for a presentation on water quality given by Olympic organizers last week; you can read the full PDF of the presentation here to see exactly what Rio is doing to fix their waterways, and here’s Juerg’s more personal report (with the beautiful photo to the left thanks to US Olympic Communications Manager Will Ricketson):
After one week in Rio there are three points I can make about the water quality.
First, the water is still dirty, and it smells bad in some places. Most of the day though, especially with the current running, it’s not so bad. The race course that will be near the bridge still has lots of plastic bags and floating debris around; those seem to be the major risk for sailors at the moment.
Second is the water quality: Days ago, our head coach took some samples and sent to an independent lab for review. We will have final results in a couple of days, but (and this is incredible), the water quality is within normal limits! For sure, the water quality is far, far from what I’m used to on our alpine lakes in Switzerland, but still, we saw a turtle today and some of our sailors saw dolphins, so that’s good news.
Third, I remember the Star Worlds here 4 years ago here in Rio, and since then, the water quality has improved A LOT. We had a race on the future medal course back then, and the water was so horribly brown and even black at times that I couldn’t use a single photo from that race.
We can complain about the water quality, but the reality is that we are seeing a major ecological change here on Brazil’s shore. Being an outsider it is hard to predict what will happen come 2016, but if the Chinese could solve hundreds of tons worth of algae, it’s not hard to hope that the Brazilians will solve their water management issues.