Heather Jepsen – The Water Network, 07/13/2016
When the team bidding to bring the 2016 Summer Games to Rio de Janeiro made their pitch back in 2009, they showed the International Olympic Committee pictures of sailboats on a glassy harbour below a cradle of mountains, and swimmers plunging into turquoise surf off Copacabana Beach.
And they admitted that while the pictures were lovely, the water was rather less so. A couple of hundred years of dumping raw sewage and industrial effluent has destroyed the mangrove system that once filtered the bay, filled the harbour with sludge, killed off most of the dolphins and many other species, and left the water a toxic mess.
But the Olympics, the bidders said – the Olympics, with its sailing and swimming and rowing events – would be the catalyst Rio has needed to finally clean up its water. The Olympic bid promised that by the time of the Games, Rio would have 80 per cent of its sewage treated.