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A Better Drainage System is Required for the Riviera Maya

Many local areas still do not have adequate drainage and the consequences are polluting our waters and killing the reef

Organic waste is poisoning the sea and the subsoil of the Mayan Riviera, killing the few remaining reefs. Dr. Gabriela Rico Ferrat has spent more than 40 years studying the behavior of the flora and fauna of the Riviera Maya. Her research on reefs and underwater ecosystems shows severe contamination of the subsoil and groundwater of the entire state, due to the lack of a drainage system.

I can tell you that reefs are dead all over the north zone beyond Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel. Unfortunately hotels and housing developments are growing, but not the infrastructure to protect the environment.

Dr. Gabriela Rico Ferra

Dr Ferrat is Director of the Center for Research and Protection of the Biosphere, based in the Benito Juarez municipality. She confirmed that dirty waters are destroying our subsoil and water reserves, contaminating our coasts and the Caribbean Sea, and killing the few reefs that remain. Only 30 percent remains of what existed in 1971 when she did studies for the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

“Reefs are dead all over the north zone beyond Playa del Carmen and Cozumel,” Ferrat told me. “Hotels and housing developments are growing, but not the infrastructure to protect the environment”.

She pointed out that the massive growth of sargassum on the beaches of Quintana Roo and Yucatan is due to the pollution generated by fecal matter from tourist developments and human settlements that are increasing in number.

“More and more sargassum grows because there are large quantities of food for  sargassum. And what is that food? Organic matter, such as human excrement, dog droppings and other natural waste that goes into the sea. Unfortunately, the majority of the population lacks drainage. In the entire continental area of Isla Mujeres there is no drainage, and in the Ejido it is common for people to bury excrement in the ground. When I was a director in Isla Mujeres, the people used to tell me, ‘Listen, my children are covered in rashes, what is happening?’ I told them that the answer was dirty water, since a few meters from where they bury the excrement they draw water to bathe. They are bathing with the same dirty water.”

The scientist insisted that a large drainage system is needed throughout the Riviera Maya, mainly in the holiday destinations that continue to grow in an excessive way. She regretted the government’s lack of will to attack the problem that is increasingly getting worse. So let us spread the word and demand that the authorities eradicate the problem before it’s too late!

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