I would like to take a moment to provide those interested with a brief update on what´s been happening with the "Playa Limpia Initiative", or the wastewater problem in La Manzanilla.
A meeting was held on April 11 whereby concerned community members (local and foreign) and local authorities convened to discuss how to tackle the problem of the dysfunctional sewer system in La Manzanilla. Here a community committee was put together. Shortly thereafter the municipal president visited La Manzanilla and saw for himself the gravity of the problem of wastewater flowing into the mangrove lagoon. He called a meeting which took place yesterday on April 16. He was present along with his staff and a head engineer from the State Water Commission of Jalisco. Most of the newly-formed committee was also present. The community committee was formalized during this second meeting and officers were nominated and elected.
During the meeting the following action plan was laid out:
Phase I: Immediate Solution to avoid the continuing flow of grey and black water into the mangrove lagoon which should be completed within the next month:
1. A study of the capacity that the pump station can handle so that all the grey and black water that is now flowing into the mangrove lagoon can be pumped up to the sewage treatment plant.
2. Buy a new pump with sufficient capacity to pump grey and black water up to the sewage treatment plant.
3. Cleaning and maintenance of treatment plant and training of local authorities to keep it clean and maintained.
4. Planting of water lilies to absorb the treated water that is flowing out of the treatment plant.
Phase II: Medium to long-term plan to fix the problems associated with the entire sewer system. The details of this plan have not yet been lined out, but everyone in the meeting was in accordance with the idea of bringing Engineers Without Borders to help analyze and solve the existing problems associated with the sewer system. Also, take note: only 30-35% of the community residents are hooked up to the sewer system. There is a significant pre-existing problem with the “fosas sépticas” that the majority of the community (60-65%) uses to dispose of their grey and black water, which are not actual sealed septic systems. Thus the majority of grey and black water being generated in the community is seeping into the aquifer(s). This is the elephant in the room in my opinion, and definitely one of the associated problems.
We have received results from water tests done by the University of Guadalajara´s Center for the Sustainable Development of Coastal Zones taken on the 16th of February of this year. I am not disposed to release those results on this forum as it is the decision of the community committee not to do so, and I am respecting that decision. Suffice it to say that the mangrove lagoons of La Manzanilla and Boca de Iguanas are significantly contaminated with fecal coliforms, and when they open up and flow into the Tenactatita Bay, it´s not a good time to go swimming. The freshwater river flowing past Martin´s restaurant had significant enough levels of contamination that it´s not recommended for swimming or wading. The bay itself (samples taken from in front of the freshwater river and in front of the mangrove lagoon) had “normal” levels of contamination at the time of testing—still safe for swimming and eating fish, etc,… for now. That´s a great sign because it means that we are still in time to be pro-active and avoid dangerous contamination levels in the bay. Note, one test, or even a few different tests do not give us enough information. We need many test over different periods of time in order to understand the bigger picture.
Finally, following is a list of the community committee members belonging to the “Playa Limpia Initiative.” Tierralegre, A.C. is taking an active part in supporting this initiative and any funds donated to help with this initiative will be used for that purpose. Thank you to those of you who have already donated to this cause—your generosity and support is greatly appreciated! A previous post was made on this forum to explain how to donate to this cause for those interested. I don´t have the link in front of me, but just let me know if you have any questions. Periodic updates on this initiative will be provided on this forum and on Tierralegre´s website at http://tierralegre.org.
Playa Limpia Initiative Community Committee
President: Arianna Elizabeth Urrutia Lozano--Tierralegre, nonprofit organization
Secretary: Leopoldo Loza Montaño (“Morgan”)--Local Community Rep.
Treasurer: Mary Jo Oberg--Foreign Community Rep.
Security: Fermin Martínez Rodríguez--“Delegado” of La Manzanilla
Committee Member Perla Marisa Díaz
Committee Member José Eliazar Martínez Rodríguez
Committee Member Gerardo Martínez Rodriguez
Committee Member Adalberto Verde Díaz
Committee Member Dennis Kalson
In sum, I feel very positive about the direction that the solution to this problem is taking. This is a prime example of a community organizing itself to take charge of its destiny while there is still ample time to do so… Thank you to everyone who is participating in this committee and, once again, to all you who have shown your support in various ways. Together, we can nip this problem in the bud and secure a clean, healthy, sustainable and prosperous La Manzanilla and Tenacatita Bay for years to come.
And here´s a photo from yesterday´s meeting:
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