On Saturday our last day we walked to Palapa Joe's for early dinner and on the way, there was a pool of sewage around the manhole at the north end of Maria Ascension.
This is the one from which sewage has been running into the lagoon and then onto the beach for at least a week. There is a strong odor of raw but fresh sewage there as well on Saturday.
This sewer system appears to have serious problems with both surface water infiltration when it rains and also ground water infiltration.
I took the time to observe both while I was there by going out at the tail end of the rains and then twice daily afterwards.
When the surface storm water was still running off, the effluent from that manhole was murky. By the end of the week it was relatively clear and somewhat dilute suggesting the main source of infiltration was ground water.
By the time we walked back on Saturday, there was an active stream of sewage running into the lagoon and from there directly on to the beach. Again. Four days after it stopped raining.
I have no idea what is going on there now. We left on Sunday.
I've tried to educate some here as to the seriousness of this matter and I detailed a stop gap solution that would keep this stuff off the beach at least short term so that the community could get through the Semana Santa weekend.
When this topic was first raised on this board I offered to spend some of my vacation time reviewing the system, sewers, pumping station and treatment plant, and getting some preliminary indications as to where the most serious issues are. I got no response.
Next thing, I see untrained people using a "quickie" test kit incorrectly and drawing all the wrong conclusions from it.
When I pointed out the error of this and cited references, ll I got was a bunch of BS and abuse from people who should understand just what a public health concern this is to both residents and visitors. Clearly they did not want to have their balloons punctured and got quite angry with me for doing so.
There's a serious problem here and the people who could do something about it seem more interested in attacking anyone who points out the obvious health risks of sewage running over the ground and onto a very nearby beach.
This is sewage 101. You don't need to use a test kit to figure out that if a fluid is running out of a sewer system manhole it is at least in part sewage. Sewage is found in sewer systems and if stuff runs out of their manholes, it is sewage.
Experienced eyes and noses do not fool one but a test kit measuring an indicator organism that has a shorter life in salt water than many of the pathogens of concern can definitely mislead particularly in the hands of those who don't really understand the technology and science of waste water collection and treatment.
Sewage is not drinking water and it is not fine wine and it can and often does have organisms in it that are of far greater concern than e-coli. On another thread I posted links to credible sources and quotes explaining this.
Of course I don't know what I'm talking about since I'm just a retired professional sanitary engineer with advanced training, 30 years of experience and international credentials who dealt with far more serious stuff during my professional life.
As to the initial question my advice to you right now is to go at least a quarter mile up the beach, north, from the lagoon. You should be OK there unless the crowd coming for the holiday really increases the rate of sewer system overflow. In which case you better stay out of the water entirely or go a lot further north. Like Tenacatita as suggested above.
And then I wouldn't hesitate to let the local business people know you will go elsewhere in the future unless they get serious about putting an end to this problem.
This will probably get me banned but it needs to be said. It seems there is far more interest at least among some on this board to pretending the obvious isn't obvious and attacking anyone who points out the emperor has no clothes.
I actually received private emails from some long term residents warning me this would happen and it appears they were correct. This really saddens and discourages me and we've decided as well not to return until we see concrete evidence that this situation has been clearly understood, taken seriously and remedied.
DanH, MSEHE, Professional Sanitary Engineer
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