Rio 'eco-boats' attempt pre-Olympic clean up

Marvelous City - Rio de Janeiro, is picture postcard perfect.
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Boats are a common site on the scenic central bay in Rio de Janeiro. Guanabara Bay is an idyllically situated waterway, revered in Samba and Bossa Nova, and one of the sailing sites for the 2016 Olympic Games. But the new fleet is not there for recreation. Eco-boats are on the water to clean up garbage in the area’s notoriously polluted waterways.

Manned by three person crews, at a cost of around US$850 each per day to the government, the three vessels pluck garbage from the murky waters and the shoreline – from plastic bottles to household appliances. Each boat holds about 37 square feet of rubbish, which is then sorted into waste and recyclables. According to the government, seven more boats are planned for deployment over the next two months.

Rio de Janeiro - Com apoio da Comlurb e de cooperativas de catadores, a Secretaria de Estado do Ambiente (SEA) começa a operar os primeiros três ecobarcos para recolhimento de lixo flutuante nas águas da Baía de Guanabara. A base inicial das operações é na Marina da Glória.
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These efforts are part of a larger US$840 million bay cleanup project, called 'Project Bay Without Garbage', led by Brazilian authorities in preparation for the 2016 Games. According to the charter governing Rio as a host city, the 'Rio 2016 Sustainability Management Plan', large-scale eco-barriers are also planned for construction where rivers meet the bay to prevent new waste from entering the water. The government has stated it will also act to stop illegal plumbing, known as 'gatos' from all parts of the city, which flood wastewater into the main canals leading the ocean and lakes.

The Rio environment minister inspecting the garbage collection.
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But there’s more to cleaning the water than collecting the floating and beach detritus. Unchecked sewerage, run-off and industrial waste for decades has led to contamination levels which are causing concerns for Olympic athletes and their organisations.

Rio’s Olympic organising committee has almost two years to fulfill its commitment of reducing water pollution by a pledged 80 percent, and officials appear confident that environmental goals will be met.

MBW/Sail-world will bring you in-depth interviews and information from the sailing governing bodies, Rio authorities and Olympic media liaison in coming weeks.

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